Jessica is on the Hawaiian island of Maui, giving a lecture on community involvement in police investigations. Her co-lecturer is legendary retired detective Mike Kane, who shares his love of Hawaiian lore, legends, and culture with Jessica. But the talking stops when the body of a colleague is found at the rocky foot of a cliff.
Mala Kapule, a botanist and popular professor at Maui College, was known for her activism and efforts on behalf of the volcanic crater Haleakala. Plans to place the world’s largest solar telescope there split the locals, with Mala arguing fiercely to preserve the delicate ecology of the area.
Now it’s up to Jessica and Mike to uncover who was driven to silence the scientist…and betray the spirit of aloha.
About the Author
Donald Bain, her longtime collaborator, is the writer of more than one hundred other books, many of them bestsellers.
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Mike’s car was a dusty blue SUV with a dent in the front fender on the passenger side and with the distinct aroma of fried fish inside. A plastic bag hanging from a radio knob held balled up wax paper from a variety of fast food places. Two empty cans of Coke occupied the cup holders in the console.
“It looks like you do a lot of eating on the run,” I said, hoping it didn’t sound like criticism.
“Yeah,” he said, as I buckled up. “Excuse the mess. My wife won’t go near this car. She says it stinks. I cleaned it up for you. Not too bad, now, huh?”
“As a method of transportation, it’s perfect,” I said, pressing a button to roll down the window.
“You don’t need air conditioning?” he asked as the car started with a groan of protest and rumbled to life.
“I’m fine without it.” “Where you from? Florida?”
“No,” I said, laughing. “I’m from Maine, all the way up the east coast, the last state before Canada.” “Never been there. Actually the only place I been to on the mainland is California.” “So you’re a Hawaiian, born and bred?” “Relatively speaking,” he said. “My father was half Hawaiian. Like most of us on the island I’m pretty much a mutt. Got some Portuguese, Filipino, Samoan, French, Korean—I think there’s even some Irish in my blood.” “My mother was from Ireland,” I said. “I knew we had something in common.” Mike gave out with a belly laugh. “Then top ‘o the morning to you, Cousin Jessica,” he said. “That’s not a bad Irish accent you have there, Cousin Mike.” A police car passed us on the road and the driver honked. Mike gave him a Hawaiian wave, a fist with thumb and pinkie fingers extended.
He was silent a moment, then said, “After class tomorrow you should come to our family picnic.” “Where is that?” “We do a barbecue up in Iao Valley. Good food. You’ll like my wife. She’s a lot like you. Her name is Pualani. She calls herself Lani. Are you free?” “I am, and I would be honored to come. Can I bring anything?” “Just yourself,” he said, grinning. “It’ll save me a lot of time explaining to my wife who this woman is that I’ve been seen driving around with.”
From Kahului, where the college was located, we took Mokulele Highway across the island to Pi’ilani, a four lane road that paralleled the southwest coast and avoided the congestion of the main street through Kihei, a neighborhood of smaller condominiums, homes, and hotels where many of the resort employees lived.
Mike parked his car in a shopping center and we made our way between two luxury hotels to reach the Wailea Coastal Walk, a mile-and-a-half trail that ran behind waterfront resorts and private condominium developments. I’d explored a small portion of it the evening before. It was midday and hot. I followed Mike’s example and put on a hat, grateful that I’d thrown a pair of tennis shoes in my shoulder bag so I could change out of the dress pumps I’d worn to teach the class. The paved part of the walk radiated back the heat and the air shimmered above it as we walked past a crescent shaped beach and down toward the field where the luau had been held.
A few runners, undaunted by the high temperature, coasted by us, but most of the pedestrians must have opted to wait for the cooler evening or early morning hours to enjoy the spectacular view. The luau field was empty, the tables and chairs gone, the stage dismantled and stored away until the next performance. We ambled around the curves of the coast, Mike taking his time and examining the vegetation along the path.
“So Miss Kapule was at the luau last night,” he said, pausing to peer over a bush near a rocky outcropping.
“I can’t confirm that,” I replied, “but one of the women at my table said that she’d seen her talking with someone.”
He moved on. “Who would that woman be?”
“Her name is Grace Latimer,” I said, glancing over the same bush that seemed to interest Mike. “What are you looking for?”
“Just admiring. Tell me about Miss Latimer.”
“About twenty-five, blond, blue eyes. Pretty, but a little restrained. She doesn’t smile much, but perhaps it was the company. She’s a graduate student working with Professor Abbott Luzon on her master’s project. The professor and his wife were at the luau as well.”
“In what context did Mala’s name come up?”
“I mentioned that I was looking for her. Mala had told me that one of her cousins was a dancer and that I might see her there.” “But you didn’t.” “No. We never found each other. At least, I didn’t find her. I have no idea if she was looking for me as well.” “Was there any reason why she would have avoided you?” “None that I can think of, although she had made a point of saying we might not run across each other because of the crowd.” “How many people were there? Any idea?” “I would guess several hundred, but the luau organizers should be able to give you a more precise number. As I understand it, everyone needed a ticket or reservation to get in.” He grunted. “You didn’t make plans to meet in a particular area?” I shook my head. “When I last saw her, she was going into an appointment in the science building and wasn’t even sure if she would make it to the luau. I simply suggested that we look for each other. That was the extent of our plans, if you can call it that.” “But this Grace Latimer said she saw Mala at the luau? Did she speak with her?” “I asked the same question. The answer is no. But that’s certainly understandable; at the time, Grace didn’t even know I was hoping to see Mala.” “Who was Mala talking to?” “You’ll have to ask Grace. All she said was that Mala was engaged in a serious conversation and looked as if she didn’t want to be interrupted.” Mike thought about that a moment, then said, “You should tell this to the police.” I smiled. “I thought I was.”
He looked down at his feet and shook his head slowly. “Sorry for the interrogation. Once a cop, always a cop,” he said with a bemused expression. “Hard to break old habits.”
“So I hear.” “I’ll introduce you to a buddy on the force.” “Why would he even be interested if they believe Mala’s death was an accident?” “Just to cover all the bases.” “Do you think it was an accident?” “I already told you. I’m reserving judgment.” “Just checking to see if you’re still telling the same story,” I said. “You sure you’re not a cop?” “Maybe in another life, but not in this one.” “Yeah? You believe in that reincarnation stuff?” “I’m reserving judgment,” I said. Mike laughed. “Touché,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a word for that in Hawaiian.”
Excerpted from "Murder, She Wrote: Aloha Betrayed"
Copyright © 2015 Jessica Fletcher.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I am a big fan of all Murder She wrote books. Have read all the books and wait for the next one out. I like that she is in Hawaii because I just came back from there and can relate the history of where the story was written about. It is a easy summer read.
I have always enjoyed the Murder she wrote series. It was a great read.
She's not the typcal old lady type
Spectacular Setting, Amazing Scenario For this Murder She Wrote novel, Jessica takes us to the beautiful Hawaiian island of Maui, and we get to vicariously enjoy the tourist sites, the food, festivals, and the local attitude, Live the Aloha Spirit, a saying worn on badges by the many workers in the island's large tourist industry. It is a spirit of friendliness and community, but as Jessica learns all too tragically, not everyone on the island lives the Aloha spirit. Jessica is on Maui as a guest of the police department to share the lecture stage with retired Maui detective and local big kahuna, Mike Kane, to talk about community involvement in crime solving to police recruits. While she is there, she plans to visit the niece (Mala) of her friend Seth Hazlitt's old university pal, Barrett Kapule, who sadly passed away recently. She has a letter of condolences from Seth to pass on to the family. Mala, a botanist of some reputation, is teaching about invasive species of plants at the local community college and is in competition for the chair position of that department. She is also spearheading a committee to prevent a multi-million dollar project to build a large telescope at the top of Haleakala, one of the two volcanoes that form the island, because it could seriously upset the ecological balance of the volcano, and also because the land is sacred to the natives. Jessica and Mala plan to attend the same luau but miss each other. When Mala is found dead the next day, having fallen (or been pushed) from the edge of a cliff not far from where the luau was held, Jessica is haunted by a conversation she overhead while exploring the nearby area. She and Mike decide to find out for themselves what happened. The teaser just inside the cover was extremely effective. It's from a very intense part of the story about 3/4 of the way through the book where there is an attempt on Jessica's life. Had to keep reading until I got there. If you never wanted to visit Hawaii before, you'll definitely want to after reading this book. You can bike all over the island, which is perfect for Jessica since she doesn't drive, and there is a wonderful bus trip up Haleakala for a spectacular view of the sunrise and the option to bike down the steep mountain road with its 29 switchbacks, a ride which could be hazardous to your health. Especially if you're Jessica Fletcher and sticking your nose in where other people don't want it! Lots of possible motives for murder here, especially with such a beautiful victim and several competing beaus, and Jessica has a hunch there may be a young witness whose family doesn't want him caught up in the investigation — it could be hazardous to his health. If you loved the TV series, you'll love the books. This makes 19 of them I've read and I've enjoyed every one.
Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain are at it again with the forty-first novel in the Murder She Wrote series, Aloha Betrayed. Fans of the old television show will love Jessica's take on Hawaii in this book. With details about everything from plant life to culture this book is a traveler's dream, but it borders on getting lost in the details, instead of the mystery. Perhaps not my favorite of the Murder She Wrote books, but still a solid installment in a long lived series. Jessica is at it again, this time in Hawaii. I liked the fact that the author was able to give Jessica a reason to be in the state that was believable. I could just see Jessica giving a lecture on just this topic or something similar. I always loved her forthright and upfront manner when it came to solving mysteries and that is exactly what readers get in this installment of the series. Aloha Betrayed is clue-based and the reader is able to follow the evidence just like the heroine. Unfortunately, this one leaned a little further away from the mystery aspects of the book and centered more on Hawaii itself. This would have made a great story about the state of Hawaii, it's landmarks, things to do, places to see, etc. But it was supposed to be a cozy mystery. Don't get me wrong there was a murder and Jessica did solve it, but the bulk of the materiel in the book was not related to that part of the book. So the balance was way off. I think it's great to set a good scene and draw the reader in, but an author can sometimes go a little overboard and I think that's what happened here. Bottom Line: This one is just a bit slow and a little underdeveloped. I wanted more character involvement and stronger connections to each clue. I didn't want to know as much about the flora and fauna as I did about 'whodunit'. It wasn't predictable, just not up to the usual standard of this series. I hope for more with the next one, because I'm sure this writing duo has a lot more stories to tell.