Leilani Santiago is back in her birthplace, the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, to help keep afloat the family business, a shave ice shack. When she goes to work one morning, she stumbles across a dead body, a young pro surfer who was being coached by her estranged father. As her father soon becomes the No. 1 murder suspect, Leilani must find the real killer and somehow safeguard her ill mother, little sisters, and grandmother while also preserving a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend in Seattle.
All is not perfect on the island of Kauai in this uneven series launch from Edgar winner Hirahara (the Mas Arai series), as college dropout Leilani Santiago discovers when she returns home from Seattle to spend her days creating shave ice, the Hawaiian treat, at her family's failing store. Financial problems snowball after her father Tommy Santiago's prot g , champion surfer Luke Hightower, signs a sponsorship deal with a rival to Tommy's latest business venture. When Leilani finds Luke's body in their shave ice shop, her father is the only suspect in the eyes of Sgt. Dennis Toma, the investigating officer, who has a long-standing grudge against Tommy. Leilani must put aside her issues with her charming but unreliable father to find the real killer. Aided by attractive newcomer Sean Cohen, Leilani discovers that even those she loves are capable of murder. The cantankerous Leilani and island setting intrigue, but the murder investigation is overshadowed by subplots including the troubled history of Hawaiian land ownership, the devastating effects of alcoholism, and Leilani's romantic problems. Those who value personal relationships more than the mystery will look forward to the sequel.