Monday, February 23, 2009

"Pleasing the Dead"

Deborah Turrell Atkinson lives in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is the author of the Storm Kayama novels: Primitive Secrets (2002), The Green Room (2005), and Fire Prayer (2007).

She applied the Page 69 Test to the latest Storm Kayama book, Pleasing the Dead, and reported the following:
“Security. I must see ID.”

Storm had heard stories about missing fingers as a sign of allegiance to the Yakuza. She eyed the guy. No tattoos crawling up his neck, but his collar was buttoned and the shirt had long sleeves. She was leery about handing over her ID.

The day attorney Storm Kayama arrives in Kahului, Maui to help Lara Farrell set up her new dive shop, someone bombs a restaurant. Then things get serious.

When one of Lara’s employees kills himself and one of his young daughters, Storm begins to ask questions, which leads her to discoveries she never wanted to know.

“The men like them very young, you know. They call it selling spring,” Lara’s manager tells Storm. Stella’s gaze flickers to where bone-thin Keiko is restocking file drawers.

Coaxing information from the terrified women, Storm finds that the facts point to the shadowy Yakuza, one of the most efficient organized crime cults in the world. Comfortable in the diverse cultures of the islands, the group’s tentacles ensnare local businesses, real estate, and politics.

It is on page 69 that Storm first realizes the Yakuza is involved in the deaths of island residents. At the bottom of the page, when she races away from the fingerless clerk, she doesn’t see him at the building’s entrance. The last sentence on the page is: “He watched her drive away and chattered into his cell phone.”

Storm finds herself up against a lethal and faceless enemy, in a place where disposing of a victim is as easy as dumping her in shark-infested waters. But who is hunting whom? Storm is caught in a struggle to the death, and begins to realize that surviving doesn’t always mean living. For some, the ghosts of the past may be more painful than the anguish of the present.

Pleasing the Dead juxtaposes real-life problems like the Japanese mob and trafficking in young women against the idyllic panorama of Maui. And all is not what it appears to be in paradise.
Learn more about the author and her work at Deborah Turrell Atkinson's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue