Audiobook Review: Mahu (Mahu #1) by Neil S. Plakcy

Mahu -- a generally negative Hawaiian term for homosexuals -- introduces a unique character to detective fiction. Kimo Kanapa'aka is a handsome, mixed-race surfer living in Honolulu, a police detective confronting his homosexuality in an atmosphere of macho bravado within the police force. A man of intelligence, strength, honesty, resourcefulness, and intense dedication to the people of Hawaii, Kimo is a hard-boiled hero you will never forget. Fast-paced, intricately plotted, thoroughly enjoyable, this is a sexy, surprisingly moving mystery about discovering oneself as much as catching a killer.

Listening Length: 11 hours
Narrator: Joel Leslie

Reviewer: Annika

Every time I pick up a book narrated by Joel Leslie, my immediate reaction is always "Oh no, not him again". There's just something about his tone/intonation that sounds condescending to me, and I can't stand condescending people so it gets my back up.

At the same time, Joel Leslie is also brilliant at narrating books. He makes them come alive. Every time. And he has such a wide range of accents that he delivers without fail. So even though the first few minutes of his books are a bit of a struggle for me, I always end up enjoying his narration, without fail. Which is why I keep forgetting that oh no moment each time I pick up his books.
Mahu was a really good combination of coming out intertwined in a murder mystery.

A drunken night out changes Kimo's life in ways he never expected.

On his way home after hanging out and drinking with his friends, Kimo impulsively decides to go into a gay bar not far from his home. Going into this bar is his first step to admitting who he really is - a gay man. And he is fascinated by what he finds, and so turned on. But most of all he is scared. Leaving the bar he witnesses a crime. A crime he has no idea how to handle.

I found it refreshing that Kimo was honest with his partner from the beginning and didn't cover up or make excuses for what he did and didn't do that night outside the bar. That easily could've turned out to be one of those big and dramatic dragged out secrets that just explodes in the end of the book. The ones where you're thinking "Why wasn't he just honest from the beginning?" I was honestly waiting (resigning myself) for it to happen but it never did. Sure he didn't shout it from the rooftop or tell everyone, but he did enough to keep it from becoming dramatic.

I liked Kimo and his struggles felt real. Sure he came across as melodramatic and a bit too scared of himself at times, but honestly - who am I to judge others feelings and beliefs? (And yes, I know that Kimo is a fictional character, but the sentiment still applies).

Something that didn't work for me was that basically as soon as Kimo started to admit to himself that he was gay, every gay guy he meets turns him on - and he turn them on. It was never ending and just too much. I don't know if it was supposed to be because that he was allowing himself to see, after repressing that side of him for so long, but it just didn't work for me. I really don't mind exploring or cruising/hooking up or whatever, but this came across more like a teen boy just discovering what his dick could do - with as much self-control...

This book was written some 10+ years ago, and you can tell that while reading. There are a number of issues raised in this book, and you realise how much some things have changed in that time in regards to rights and opinions, and how many that are (sadly) still the same.

I loved reading about Kimo's first stumbling steps towards admitting to himself and others that he was gay. You can feel that his struggles and fears are real. By the end of the book he still has a very long way to go, but he is on his way, there's promise in that ending. It was a really good start to a promising series and it will be interesting to see what happens next.

A free copy of this audiobook was provided in exchange for an honest review..

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