KIRKUS REVIEW, posted February 3, 2016
Hawaii forms the lush backdrop for a veteran detective’s attempt to foil a grisly murder plot involving priceless looted artifacts.
When Hawaii County Chief Detective Koa Kāne is airlifted to Pōhakuloa, an Army live-fire training area on The Big Island, he faces a mutilated murder victim and the most challenging case of his career as an investigator. The body, found inside a natural lava tube cave, bears the markings of a ritualistic sacrifice. The crime scene also surprisingly unearths a long-buried royal crypt within an ancient stonecutters’ quarry, which fits nicely into Kāne’s suspicions of a grave robbery or an illegal archaeological dig. The investigation ramps up when the son of retired-gumshoe-turned-fisherman Hook Hao is seriously hurt while exploring an unsecured military range on neighboring island Kahoolawe, south of Maui. Having developed personal discipline from years in the Army, Kāne is well-respected in the Hawaiian Island chain as a loyal, hardworking native, and he navigates the homicide with slick precision, undaunted by a string of messy leads and bumbling interlopers quick to jump on the scene. In between all of the diligent police spadework, McCaw, a veteran attorney, softens the protagonist’s hard-boiled exterior with a subplot involving his striking, younger girlfriend Nālani, who struggles with sexual harassment at her job in Mauna Kea. As the mystery deepens, the author masterly displays a finely balanced mixture of detective work, local color, and interpersonal melodrama. This winning combination is typically the mark of a seasoned writer, so this debut novel may exceed the expectations of many readers. McCaw keeps the sure-footed plotline suitably tight. As the narrative plumbs the history of Hawaiian archaeology and incorporates fascinating ancient island regal rituals, the area’s precious artifacts, and indigenous Polynesian customs, a complicated host of co-investigators and various suspects emerge. From a smarmy, ex-Marine archaeologist with good intentions to a secretive prince, a violent black market contraband dealer, and a star-struck astrologer, the suspects present Kāne with an arduous task. The pressure’s on the detective to sift through these individuals to find a common link, or discard them all to uncover the true villain before tragedy strikes again. This book’s vivid, thrilling conclusion is both unique and atmospheric in a whodunit featuring a resilient sleuth successfully defending his native tropical paradise.
A tautly paced, impressively accomplished police procedural marking the beginning of a promising mystery series.
An excellent murder mystery involving characters he brought to life — Posted By Terry Dunlap on Amazon, February 3, 2016
Robert McCaw has investigated actual mysteries of the Island about the Axe makers and delivered an excellent murder mystery involving characters he brought to life. He has juxtaposed this, a cultural legacy of mystery with modern character motivation in a contemporary setting utilizing the development of intertwining plots, subplots, red herrings and all.
Having lived on the Big Island of Hawaii since 1990, we feel that this author has captured the spirit of the Big Island with the science, technology, cultural history, current cultural values and practices. This is an excellent murder mystery and an outstanding achievement for a first time author. Now, the real mystery is when will the next novel with Koa Kane be released.
He communicates it easily and smoothly — Posted by Mary on Amazon, February 2, 2016
This well-paced thriller is meticulously plotted and full of interesting information. The author has a firm grasp of forensic medicine, archaeology, astronomy, mythology, weaponry, and more, and he communicates it easily and smoothly. Death of A Messenger is an impressive debut. I look forward to further Koa Kane episodes
Great, story and well written — Posted by Amazon Customer on January 29, 2016
Great, story and well written. Once you start it’s hard to put down. Obviously, the author has done a great deal of research and the results are
being reflected in the book. Definitely recommend to everyone. Can hardly wait for the next Koa Kane book.
Good stuff — Posted by Sheila K. Fernandez Kinzer on Amazon, January 16, 2016
Hope your not busy tomorrow because this book is an all niter,(or two). Very much enjoyed the characters, locations, and their descriptions, the author takes you there. As for the case, a rollercoaster of who did it. I wasn’t ready for it to end, looking forward to going along on Koa’s next case.
Beautiful Hawaii holds many ancient secrets & now a ritualistic murder of a young, brilliant astronomer. A new smart & human detective enters our realm & captures our imagination…Koa Kane. He is a native Hawaiian who has clawed his way up the bureaucratic ladder through ferocity, doggedness & intelligence. We are swept away in Koa’s discoveries & clues. Every page holds another piece to the puzzle until the end when we are once again involved in a twist of fate to uncover Keneke’s killer. I, for one, was wrapped up in the ancient rites & modern day technology of the observatories. Well done, Mr. McCaw…cannot wait until another case needs to be solved by this illustrious detective.
Intrigue, ambiance, plot, and characters – this book has it all! — Posted By Amazon Customer, January 3, 2016
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Full of interesting characters and absorbing plot twists. The author takes you on a ride deep into Hawaiian culture as his star character, Koa Kane, solves a really nasty crime. Loved the intrigue that built throughout and the sense of Hawaii this book gave me.
Koa Kane Has Arrived — Posted By Amazon Customer, January 2, 2016
https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RKTFMOKWRXYS9/ref=cm_cr_pr_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B018J24DO4A wonderful first novel for Robert McCaw. He keeps the reader riveted to the book as the characters and story are developed. With the overlay of Hawaiian history and culture, McCaw creates an intricate story of intertwining events, themes and personalities. Carefully building to its climax, the book leaves the reader satisfied with Detective Kane’s resolution of this complicated and difficult investigation. With Koa Kane, and the Hawaii setting, McCaw has created a new and exciting platform for the mystery novel reader. This reviewer is looking forward to McCaw’s second installment of his Koa Kane Hawaiian Mystery series.
A great read! — Posted By GCB on Amazon, January 1, 2016
McCaw’s debut novel is excellent. Koa Kane is a terrific new character, a real “good guy” without being at all self-righteous. The novel is well-paced and builds to an exciting climax. McCaw’s love and respect for Hawaii and its history and culture are evident throughout. His military and legal background lend credibility to the characters and plot developments. I also found the science fascinating. Looking forward to Koa Kane’s next adventure.
An exciting, entertaining read… can’t wait for the next Koa Kane mystery! — Posted By Medusa’s Laugh on Amazon, December 24, 2015
I love a good mystery, especially one made rich with the history and culture of an exotic place. Along with the elements that make a mystery so much fun…. the turning of a detective’s mind, the sifting through of evidence, the cast of suspects, this book is like traveling through the many microclimates of Hawaii. It’s an adventure of sight and sound, as well as the many voices that tell the tale of our 50th state. I hope there’s more to come as Koa finds himself embroiled in another crime on the Big Island.
If you like Daniel Silva, you’ll love Robert B. McCaw. This book is great! — Posted By Jane Mitakides on Amazon, December 20, 2015
I couldn’t put this book down! I’m a huge fan of Daniel Silva, and this book reminds me of his Gabriel Allon series. Like Silva’s books, this book has a true original as its central character. The Hawaiian detective, Koa Kane, has real dimension and humanity. The book gives you the feel and appreciation of the “Big Island” of Hawaii, a far cry from the touristy Honolulu. The murder plot twists through the largest telescope installation in the world (on the island), the looting of ancient artifacts, and modern detective work, all in an entertaining, intriguing way. I hope this is the first of a series…
Excellent mystery with a fully realized setting — Posted By BHM on Amazon, December 15, 2015
A compelling murder mystery with a unique protagonist and a spectacular setting. It paints a fascinating portrait of Hawaii in all its complexity, from folklore to culture to the military to its special role in astronomy. The story delivers a fast read, cool twists and turns, and a satisfying conclusion. Well worth a read, you’ll enjoy it.
Amazon Review Gives Death of a Messenger an “A” — By Will on December 13, 2015
A great read. For me the best part of the story is how the author intertwines Hawaiian history and technology. As Koa follows the trail of the crime we are shown the current dynamics of the island life. Artifact thieves, political ambition, and political pressure are all too evident. The author’s intimate knowledge of the Big Island lends much credibility to the story. I am looking forward to the next episode.
“WOW” — Posted on Google Books
WOW!! If you like a fast pace, quick turns, well-developed characters and “edge of your seat” excitement, you will love this book. Mr. Mccaw’s love for Hawaii is obvious from the wealth of accurate detail both current and historical to be found in this book. Detective Kane is faced with unraveling a murder mystery bizarre enough to daunt any law enforcement officer, even a seasoned one and only someone well versed in ancient Hawaiian lore could succeed. Mr. Mccaw’s skill with a pen makes the twists and turns of plot believable to the point of causing the reader to sweat right along with Detective Kane as he hits one baffling roadblock after another. If you are looking for something fresh, exciting, and unusual you will love this one! It is apparently a first book which is surprising given its depth. I hope he has more to come.
I was so excited to see a new author in the crime thriller genre break through some of the “same old same old” authors. Robert McCaw has introduced a rich new setting and cast of characters in his new book Death of Messenger and I loved this book. I am afraid of giving away too many of the plot twists but be assured this is a great read and you won’t want to put it down. The characters are engaging and although I have been to Hawaii (once) I realized there is a lot more to Hawaii than I thought. I have a whole new appreciation for the culture. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!
It is difficult to believe that this is the first novel by this author. It is a “hang onto your hat” paced story with enough well-developed twists and turns to keep you thinking you have figured something out only to find you haven’t, and off you go down another path. Mr. Mccaw’s skill with a pen creates a very believable cast of characters and his love for Hawaii is clear in his meticulous attention to Island detail. Within a very few pages you are sweating gently along with Detective Kane as he deals with the bizarre details of a truly hair-raising murder mystery. If you are tired of the “same old same old” run of mystery novels this is a must read. Fresh, exciting, unusual, and historically accurate it is truly a great find. Would love to see this one made into a movie! Hopefully Mr. Mccaw has others on the burner.
The islands of Hawaii provide the setting for an outstanding police procedural. Modern science weaves against native tradition to produce a case where sorting out the bad guys and assigning proper responsibility is a most difficult task. Everyone seems to be guilty of something, but who is guilty of what, and why are they guilty becomes a puzzling case for Kao Kane, the super detective from Hawaii. Everything falls into place by the end, but it is quite an ending. Well worth a read.
Review from For The Love of Books, October 29, 2015
Hawaiian detective Koa Kane responds to a violent crime scene at Pohakuloa, an army training site. A body has been found inside a cave, so savagely mutilated as to be unrecognizable. The only things that seems clear is that the murder has all the markings of a ritual killing. Also uncovered at the crime scene are ancient burial crypts and a stonecutter’s workshop sealed off for 500 years. Is the victim a grave robber, or someone who came upon others looting the site. Too make matters more complicated, another man is injured at an illegal dig on another island. When the victim’s i.d. is finally confirmed, there are suspects coming out of the woodwork. Can Koa narrow down the list before another person is killed? I really enjoyed this mystery that took me into the heart of Hawaii, into the rituals and the past; the things that tourists never see. I can’t wait to read McCaw’s next installment.