cover image Hokuloa Road

Hokuloa Road

Elizabeth Hand. Mulholland, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-54204-3

Grady Kendall, the protagonist of this atmospheric if flawed thriller from Hand (Curious Toys), escapes his depressing life in Maine to become the caretaker for billionaire Wes Minton’s mansion on the beautiful but perilous Hawaiian volcanic peninsula of Hokuloa, complete with a tank of poisonous sea urchins, an aviary of near-extinct birds, and a creepy doglike specter. Meanwhile, Minton spends most of his time at remote Hokuloa Point, where his plan to build a resort has been blocked by environmental activists. Grady discovers via the locals that homeless people often disappear and the police don’t much care. But when Jessica Kiyoko, a visitor to the area whom Grady met on the flight over, looks to be among the missing, Grady feels compelled to unearth his employer’s secrets. The core story moves smoothly between Grady’s fears and the social moments that advance the plot, though Grady’s past trauma comes up several times without payoff, and the emotional aspects of the relationship between Grady and Jessica’s best friend stay unsatisfyingly off-screen. Hand neatly balances tense action with rich environmental ambience, and the supernatural with the darkly human. She remains a writer to watch. Agent: Nell Pierce, Sterling Lord Literistic. (July)