Wiley is a professional poker player in Portland who keeps vigil on the seedy streets of the city's darker side. He's no stranger to violence, but he's got a good heart and a noble streak that his friends and family know is a mile long. His enemies often see a streak of a different sort, particularly when he teams up with this best friend, Leon, and the two are simultaneously beloved and feared among those who know them.
Wiley is also a man who solves problems for his friends. The murder of a young musician who is close to his extended family puts Wiley in a vengeful frame of mind. He follows the evidence through the darkest corners of the city. When the trail points to Hawai'i, a place in which Wiley has never set foot but seems lately to be calling him home, he heads for the land of his ancestors in the hopes of finding justice for his young friend.
Reminiscent of the classic noir masters but with a modern twist all his own, Lono Waiwaiole is increasingly recognized as one of the groundbreaking masters of noir fiction.
In Waiwaiole's uneven third novel to feature poker player Wiley (after 2004's Wiley's Shuffle), the murder of Ronnie, a promising young jazz musician, takes Wiley to the big island of Hawaii, the land of his ancestors. Much of this hard-boiled noir thriller, however, is set in Portland, Ore., where Wiley and his brutally competent partner, Leon, search for the motive behind the murder and for vengeance. Fans of the series will get their fill of tough-guy talk and lurid violence, along with some pretty strange sex, but new readers may be baffled by the intricacies of Wiley's backstory. Three different narrators can make an already opaque plot (why, exactly, are Wiley and Leon so eager to avenge Ronnie's murder?) hard to follow. A few well-drawn characters notably Danny, a young thug with a too healthy ego and some powerful scenes only partly compensate for the story's lack of momentum.