Friday, April 5, 2024

Book Review: Molten Death

By Melissa Smoot

Retired caterer Valerie Corbin and her wife Kristen have come to the Big Island of Hawai'i to treat themselves to a well-earned tropical vacation. After the recent loss of her brother, Valerie is in sore need of a distraction from her troubles and is looking forward to enjoying the delicious food and vibrant culture the state has to offer.

Early one morning, the couple and their friend - tattooed local boy, Isaac - set out to see an active lava flow, and Valerie is mesmerized by the shape-shifting mass of orange and red creeping over the field of black rock. Spying a boot in the distance, she strides off alone, pondering how it could have gotten there, only to realize to her horror that the boot is still attached to a leg - a leg which is slowly being engulfed by the hot lava.

Valerie's convinced a murder has been committed - but as she's the only witness to the now-vanished corpse, who's going to believe her?

Determined to prove what she saw, and get justice for the unknown victim, Valerie launches her own investigation. But, thrown into a Hawaiian culture far from the luaus and tiki bars of glossy tourist magazines, she soon begins to fear she may be the next one to end up entombed in shiny black rock . . . (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Molten Death was a great read. I really enjoyed the setting on the Big Island of Hawaii and how descriptive Karst is. It felt like I was completely transported to the Island and on vacation with the two main characters, Valerie and Kristen. Hawaii has always been a very special place for my family and we have spent a lot of time there over the years. I still remember my first trip there at four years old. 

The mystery of the body in the lava had me hooked from the beginning. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened and if Valerie and Kristen would ever get to the bottom of it. The story took me on so many turns that I was often finding myself playing detective to try and figure it out. 

As an indigenous person myself, I truly appreciated the way Karst wove the cultural and historical relevance of the islands, as well as the local languages and customs into the book. It felt much more genuine and authentic, and I even learned a few things. 

Considering the tropical location, Molten Death would be a perfect beach or pool read. The mystery leaves you guessing until the very last chapter, and I really enjoyed this book.

Thanks to BookSparks for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Leslie Karst:
Dying for a Taste (part of the Sally Solari Mysteries)
Justice is Served

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