Hilo Chief Detective Koa Kāne—imagine a Dave Robicheaux of the Hawaiian Islands—doesn’t know what to make of the explosion outside Volcano Village on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. It doesn’t make sense. Then when a second body is found buried by lava flow in the nearby Royal Gardens—a village decimated by lava from the Kīlauea volcano and from Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanic fury—he knows something dangerously nefarious is at play. Murder rarely occurs in Hilo, and never anything this gruesome.
McCaw draws from his experiences as an Army veteran and attorney to write authenticity into his novels. Part of the plot for Off the Grid was inspired by the never-truly-accounted-for “accidental” US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999. His legal knowledge of gathering facts and piecing them together to arrive at the truth provided him with Koa’s investigative skills.
Koa is no stranger to violence. As a Special Ops soldier in Mogadishu, Somalia, he’d seen inexplicable tragedy and had dodged the bullet that killed his best friend, Jerry. And Koa harbors secrets of his own past violence, something he can’t bring himself to share with the love of his life, Nālani. Would she even stay with him if she knew what he’d done? Sometimes the truth doesn’t set you free, you just figure out a way to live with it.
Becoming a cop was Koa’s way to repay his debt to Jerry and to atone for his own sins.
After piecing strange clues together, Koa determines that the murdered couple lived nearby in a home barely inhabitable. Except for the cameras surveilling the property, there is no evidence that the couple were connected to the outside world—they were living “off the grid.” But why?
As his investigation continues, Koa discovers that one of the dead was an operative for the CIA and the other was Special Forces. It becomes clear they were involved in a decade-long conspiracy that involved the Federal government, the military, and wealthy landowners and politicians.
Will Koa and his team be able to identify the kepala—the head man—who’d orchestrated the killings and why? And if he does, will he and Nālani survive the fallout?
As a twenty-year part-time resident of Hawaiʻi, McCaw’s keen awareness and understanding of Hawaiian culture, language, and geography allows him to include descriptions of native plant-life, the history of the islands’ habitation, and legends of the ancient Gods who were once thought to rule there. To further make his fiction leap off the page with realism, McCaw delicately weaves in realistic details from his personal experiences living on the island—visiting the studio of a local glassblower, eating at a restaurant which closed because the owner was a fugitive and arrested, buying a painting from an artist who lived deep in the forest, and marveling at the glow of the Kīlauea crater.
Readers who love a complex hard-boiled detective with flaws and secrets, and depictions of Hawaiʻi’s culture and beauty, will be drawn to Koa Kāne and the mosaic richness of an American paradise. Mahalo.
Off the Grid is now available.
About Robert McCaw
Robert McCaw grew up in a military family traveling the world. After graduating from Georgetown University, he served as a lieutenant in the US Army before earning his law degree from the University of Virginia. Thereafter he practiced as a partner in a major international law firm in Washington, DC, and New York City—and maintained a home on the Big Island of Hawaii. McCaw brings a unique authenticity to his Koa Kāne Hawaiian mystery novels in both his law enforcement expertise and in his ability to portray the richness of Hawaiʻi’s history, culture, and people. McCaw lives in New York City and Hawaii with his wife Calli.