Review: Zero Break by Neil S. Plakcy

Zero Break by Neil S. Plakcy
Series: Mahu (# 6)
Release Date: March 25, 2012
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages: 284
Source: ARC provided by the author

Openly gay Honolulu homicide detective and surfer Kimo Kanapa’aka investigates the murder of a young lesbian mother at the same time he and his partner consider having children themselves.

Zero break refers to the deep-water location where waves first begin, often far offshore. For Honolulu homicide detective and surfer Kimo Kanapa’aka, it means his most dangerous case yet.

A young mother is murdered in what appears to be a home invasion robbery, leaving behind a complex skein of family and business relationships, and Kimo and his detective partner Ray Donne must navigate deadly waters to uncover the true motive behind her death and bring her killer to justice.

Kimo is also in trouble at home, as he and fire investigator Mike Riccardi consider fathering children themselves.

Review: Let me start with this: If you have not read the previous books in the Mahu series, do so. Yes, this book could be read as a stand-alone but not only will you be missing some fine mystery writing, you will be missing some of the finer points in Kimo’s past that are mentioned in Zero Break.

If you’ve read the book’s synopsis, you know that Kimo is a gay police detective who solves mysteries. In this particular book, he also becomes involved in a high-speed chase through Honolulu (Hawaii Five-0 lookout!), a tragic shooting, an explosion, and everywhere he looks are children.

This particular case starts with a murdered lesbian which leads him to an alternative form of power called wave energy. According to the Offshore Alternative Energy Guide, wave power devices extract energy directly from the surface motion of ocean waves or from pressure fluctuations below the surface. This is something new for me, but that’s no surprise where Plakcy’s writing is concerned. Living in Honolulu, I often start to notice these things around me after reading one of his books. In this case, I’ve found that the State of Hawaii has been experimenting with wave energy since 2008.

My favorite part of the book came after a particularly traumatic day for Kimo. He handled everything great, concentrating on what he had to do in his role as a cop, but when he got home he let himself go and fell apart. And Mike took care of him. He let Kimo cry, and he held him and soothed him, and by the end of that touching scene you know that Mike will always be there for Kimo. (And if you don’t at least have teary eyes by the end of that chapter, you have no romance in you at all. Me? I cried outright.)

I have loved the Mahu series and Kimo right from the first book, Mahu, and judging by Zero Break I will continue to love them. Plakcy has grown Kimo into his own man, unafraid to announce his “gaydom” and to do what is right, no matter which road it takes him down.