cover image The Lava Witch

The Lava Witch

Debra Bokur. Kensington, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-3785-4

Bokur’s stellar third Dark Paradise mystery (after 2021’s The Bone Field) takes Det. Kali Mahoe of the Maui police to a grisly crime scene in the Kula Forest Reserve. A corpse, later identified as that of 24-year-old Maya Louise Holmes, hangs from a tree, her hands bound, her neck in a noose, and the soles of her feet partially burnt, possibly from having been forced into a firewalking ceremony. The autopsy reveals that the victim, who was reported missing two days earlier, was tortured and then suffocated with fine lava dust. Kali pursues numerous angles, including the possibility that the killing was linked to Holmes’s work for the Center for Marine Mining and Research related to robotic technology. Meanwhile, a witness claims to have seen “a band of witches” flying through the trees where the body was displayed and heard noises that sounded like someone was being tortured, testimony that forces Kali to review the supernatural legends she learned growing up in Hawaii to see whether they have any relevance to her inquiry. This procedural keeps readers guessing all the way to the gratifying solution. Fans of Tony Hillerman will be enthralled. Agent: Shannon Hassan, Marsal Lyon Literary. (June)