Book Review: Blood Orchids by Toby Neal

The following review originally appeared on Book End Babes, a website devoted to a love of reading and to learning about new authors.

Those of you who have read my past reviews know a good murder mystery warms my heart, especially the ones that I cannot put down. Toby Neal is a fantastic writer and I cannot wait for the next books in the Lei Crime Novel series. But first, let me tell you about why I LOVED Blood Orchids.

 Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water-but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise. Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers-one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed-even as the killer is drawn to Lei’s intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity. Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she’s being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei’s quest for answers-and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer-but he knows where to find her first.

Neal has created, dare I say, a character that can rival that of James Patterson’s Lindsay Boxer? Lei is a strong woman struggling to deal with the demons of her past. She has drive, ambition and loves to get herself into situations she might just not have needed to be in She’s ballsy and I love it. Her partner, Pono, provides balance to Lei’s character and serves as the rock in her life.

Neal obviously did her research before writing this novel and it paid off. The descriptions of the Hawaiian settings made me feel the warmth of the sun. The use of Pidgin throughout the novel creates another layer of authenticity. I don’t feel like the novel could have been set anywhere else.

This story wouldn’t be complete without some sexual tension with a leading male figure, in this case Detective Stevens. Their first meetings reminded me of how it was for Castle and Detective Beckett. The development of the relationship between Lei and Detective Stevens is interwoven beautifully into the narrative of story without taking away from the crimes. It’s constantly there in a subtle way that makes you want to turn the page to see what happens not only on the case, but between Lei and Stevens as well.

I am so happy this novel got placed into my hands. I loved it and would have read it cover to cover if life didn’t continue to move around me. And you are not going to believe who done it! I did not see this coming AT ALL!

I cannot wait for the next books in the Lei Crime Series to come out. Toby Neal you have created a novel that has lured me in for life! Everyone should rush and download or buy her book now! You won’t regret it!

Who are some of your favorite female heroines? Do they keep you checking to see when the next novel is going to come out?