Book Review: Fire and Vengeance by Robert McCaw

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A standard police procedural with many twists and turns.

Book CWs

  • Child endangerment/death
  • Animal Abuse/death
  • Profanity
  • Character death/murder

Premise (from Goodreads)

Having killed his father’s nemesis and gotten away with it, Hilo, Hawai`i Chief Detective Koa Kane, is not your ordinary cop. Estranged from his younger brother who has been convicted of multiple crimes, he is not from a typical law enforcement family.

Yet, Koa’s secret demons fuel his unwavering drive to pursue justice. Never has Koa’s motivation been greater than when he learns that an elementary school was placed atop a volcanic vent, which has now exploded. The subsequent murders of the school’s contractor and architect only add urgency to his search for the truth.

As Koa’s investigation heats up, his brother collapses in jail from a previously undiagnosed brain tumor. Using his connections, Koa devises a risky plan to win his brother’s freedom. As Koa gradually unravels the obscure connections between multiple suspects, he uncovers a 40 year-old conspiracy. When he is about to apprehend the perpetrators, his investigation suddenly becomes entwined with his brother’s future, forcing Koa to choose between justice for the victims and his brother’s freedom.

Review (No Spoilers)

Thank you so much to Robert McCaw and his marketing team for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for an honest review! As someone born and raised in Hawaiʻi, I’ll probably have a different take on this book than most readers so I’ll leave a separate section at the end of the review to talk a bit about that.

I haven’t read many police procedurals so I don’t really know much about how they generally go but Fire and Vengeance came across to me as a very standard police procedural. It’s the third in the Koa Kāne series and I didn’t read the first two so there were a few references that I missed out on but it definitely works as a standalone if you are interested in picking this one up.

Aside from the cultural aspect which I talk about below, I felt that the writing was pretty good. There were a few instances where the plot slowed down or where I felt the author took a lot of time just to say some older woman used to be hot, but there were also a lot of instances where the story picked up and I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough.

Alongside the main plot, theres also a subplot about Koa’s brother Ikaika. Ikaika is a cold-blooded criminal but after he collapses in jail, Koa starts to wonder if Ikaika’s criminal history is the result of an undiagnosed brain tumor. I usually don’t like subplots but Ikaika’s story really interested me. In fact, I kind of wish I saw more of it because I felt like it was kind of hastily wrapped up in the end.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who likes police procedurals. It will give you one heck of a ride.

Culture Notes

Fire and Vengeance takes place on the Big Island (also known was Hawaiʻi Island) and many characters, including the MC, are of Hawaiian descent with Hawaiian last names. This is something that struck me as strange because the majority of Hawaiʻi’s population is in fact not Hawaiian (kind of messed up, I know). And of those who are Hawaiian, a result of racial mixing and colonization has resulted in a lot of non-Hawaiian last names.

I will say that I was born and raised primarily on Oahu (I also lived in Kauai for a couple of years in elementary school) so it’s completely possible that the culture I experienced here is different from the culture on the Big Island. I am also understanding if Robert McCaw purposefully included more Hawaiian characters for the sake of the book. A lot of Hawaiian phrases/words are used throughout the book–way more than I am used to–so including more Hawaiian characters would be a way to allow this.

This brings me to my other main thought: as far as I could tell, only one character spoke pidgin and even then, his usage was on-and-off. Pidgin is an English-based creole that is used frequently by locals to communicate with each other. It’s also a language that a lot of people who come here have trouble understanding. Here are two examples:

Pidgin: These waves are mo’ bettah den da ones ova dea’
English: These waves are better than the ones over there.

Pidgin: Ho, Tutu’s malasadas so ono, broke da mouth.
English: My grandma’s malasadas are so good; they’re absolutely delicious.

My best guess is that Robert McCaw decided that using too much pidgin would result in people not understanding the book’s conversations. On top of that, many of the people that are questioned for being involved are of “higher rank” in society and are less likely to use pidgin as there are a lot of people who view it as a sign of low intelligence.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Fire and Vengeance by Robert McCaw

  1. Susan May 27, 2020 / 9:42 am

    Do you read a lot of police procedurals? I love psychological thrillers when done right but I can’t seem to get into this genre. I love your review though! Very detailed and balanced.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenny's Reviews May 27, 2020 / 6:01 pm

      Not at all. I’ve read Heat Wave which was one that I really liked and I’ve also read a cozy mystery which is kind of similar but other than that I’m fairly new to the genre.


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