On an early morning paddle, Agapé Jones' outrigger team finds a body in the water off Maui, thrusting him into unexpected danger.
Finalist for the 2012 EPIC eBook Award for mystery
Agapé Jones, retired NYPD detective, is asked to act as special investigator in the murder of famous surfer Philip Fowler, the son of Hawaii State Senator Thomas Fowler. The assignment takes Agapé to the North Shore of Oahu where he discovers he’s investigating more than just a murder. The young man had no enemies, and Agapé is frustrated by little evidence and few possible suspects.
Agapé enjoys exercising his old skills, but he misses his wife, Gerry. He encounters several people who become more than acquaintances and, in the end, discovers the truth. Murder in Paradise will allow readers to uncover the answers along with the detective while experiencing a virtual trip to the real Paradise that is Hawaii.
Chapter 1 – Morning Paddle Interrupted
Guess I’m getting used to this early morning routine, I thought as I stood on the dock at the entrance to Lahaina Harbor with the other members of my team, paddle in hand. My friend, Kimo Akai, had persuaded me, Agapé Jones, retired NYPD detective, that it would be fun to try outrigger canoe racing. Right now I had my doubts.
Kimo and his cousin, Keoki, guided the six-man craft to the dock and I eased my bum leg into position at third spot in the boat. The bullet I’d taken in the thigh, which ended my career with the NYPD, would never let me run again, but my arms were still strong even for my sixty-plus years. Of course, Kimo is at least two decades younger and Keoki nearly three.
“You won’t be the oldest on the team,” Kimo had assured me. “That honor falls to Raul. He’s a full eighteen months ahead of you. We jokingly call him the ‘old man,’ but he can still out-paddle any of us.”
The trade winds were down, leaving the ocean glassy smooth as we headed out the harbor entrance. I counted my strokes: twelve, thirteen. The steerer shouted “Ae!” and we responded with “Ho!” and shifted our paddles to the opposite side. The craft moved easily through the calm waters. It would be much harder later in the day when the trades made the surface choppy.
Several surfers were enjoying the reefs north of the entrance. I envied their ability to leap quickly to their feet and duck into the steepening waves. With skill and some luck, the surfer would exit ‘the tube,’ as they called it, into the calm deeper waters of the entrance channel just as the liquid wall collapsed. A rider too far back or not quick enough would have to contend with the shallow, board-hungry reef.
Keoki steered the canoe south. It would take a couple of hours to make the harbor at Maalaea, our goal.
Twelve, thirteen, “Ho!” shift.
The hills behind Lahaina shone brightly in the morning light. Several columns of ruddy brown smoke boiled skyward in the still air. Cane fields were being burned in preparation for harvest. Burning cleared the leaves and insects, leaving the sweet, juice-filled stalks ready for cutting.
Better concentrate on paddling, Agapé, I reminded myself after missing a switch and clicking oars with Raul.
The ‘old man’ in the number two spot raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything.
About half an hour into the trip and a mile from shore, Keoki called out, “Hey, what’s dat ova dere?” and turned the outrigger toward a floating object ahead. As we approached, I recognized it as a body, face down, still attached by an ankle-leash to a short surfboard. I heard groans and gasps as the others realized what we’d found.
Keoki guided us to bring the body between the canoe and its outrigger. Kimo crawled out on the forward spar and gingerly turned the victim over. It was a young man. A couple of the guys said, “Oh, no,” and one said, “It can’t be.”
During my years with NYPD, I had seen bodies in the harbor, Central Park, and the East River. I’d have guessed this one to have been in the water a few hours rather than days because there was no significant bloating. There appeared to be a puncture wound in his chest.
“Kimo,” I directed, “drag the body over here. We can load him in the center of the canoe.”
He gave me a horrified look.
“We have to do something. We can’t just leave him here.”
My friend still appeared reluctant but used the surfboard to nudge the victim toward me. Aside from a death at a conference last year, Kimo, as hotel activities director, probably hadn’t had much contact with corpses. I’d had far too much.
Raul looked ashen but helped me lift the victim onboard. Keoki attached the leash to the rear spar. The surfboard would trail along behind the canoe.
I pulled a zippered plastic bag from my pocket and extracted my cell phone, grateful my wife, Gerry, had insisted I bring it this morning. “Damn, no signal. We’ll have to get closer to the beach.”
We headed for shore with our additional ‘passenger.’ No one spoke.
As soon as the bars appeared on my cell, I hit the speed dial to Kimo’s uncle, Detective George "Duke" Wimakinukalulani. I had worked on a previous case with the man and still had his number. He answered immediately.
“Agapé Jones here,” I announced. “We’ve found a body floating about a mile off Olowalu. Can you have your people meet us at Launiupoko Beach? We’re in an outrigger canoe and headed in right now.”
“I’m on it,” he said. “I’ll have forensics and the coroner meet you there. See you in a few minutes.”
Police vehicles lined the highway and parking area as we made our way through the surf and pulled the outrigger up on dry sand. We were immediately surrounded by uniformed officers while others kept curious onlookers away. I motioned our crew back and let the authorities take over.
The chief investigator’s car pulled up and the “big man” himself got out. The term usually refers to the person’s position or office. But for Chief Detective Duke, at six-foot-four with a linebacker build, it was literal. He easily dwarfed the others standing nearby.
“Well, Agapé, seems like we’ve done this before,” Duke remarked as he approached, disposable coffee cup in hand. The big guy was referring to the first time we’d met at the National Authors Conference, standing over another corpse. He looked down at the body and sucked air through gritted teeth. A serious look crossed his face.
“When you called, I was afraid this is who it was.”
“Who do you mean?” I asked.
“Don’t you watch television? It’s been on all the news programs. Professional surfer Philip Fowler, son of State Senator Thomas Fowler, went missing on Oahu three days ago.”
“I don’t watch much TV,” I confessed. “I’ve gained a few pounds. Gerry thought I was turning into a couch potato and restricted my viewing to a few favorite sports programs and cop shows.”
“Well, the senator’s been on all the channels. Even offered a ten thousand dollar reward for his son’s safe return. This will be tough on him.”
“Hi, Pops,” Keoki said as he approached.
“Keoki, you part of this group?” Duke asked.
“Sure. Kimo talked me into joining. Said it would help my stamina for surfing.”
I noticed the son’s usual pidgin slang had all but disappeared when speaking to his dad.
“You think that’s Flip?” he continued. “I was afraid it might be, same hair and build. I met him once, at a contest on Oahu. Seemed like a nice guy, for a haole.”
“We’ll know as soon as forensics can verify it. Till then, you’re not to talk to anyone about this. Hear me?”
“Loud and clear, Pops,” Keoki responded.
Statements were taken from the team and we were admonished to not discuss our discovery with anyone, especially not the media, until an official police press statement was released. I wished I’d had my trusty notebook, but it was home on the dresser. Instead, I tried to memorize the observations I’d made to write down later.
No one felt like continuing the run, so Kimo called the canoe club on my cell and arranged for us and the outrigger to be picked up.
On the drive back, questions formed in my mind. How would a surfer who disappeared on Oahu three days ago end up floating off Maui? Too far to drift, even if the current was in this direction. The area off Olowalu is noted for tiger sharks. Why didn’t they attack? Was it an accident or was he killed? If so, did the killer think the sharks would destroy the evidence? If he wasn’t bleeding, maybe the sharks didn’t smell him. If I knew how he got here, I might be able to figure out how he died.
Murder In Paradise By Larry K and Lorna Collins
Title: Murder In Paradise (Book 2 Agape Jones Series)
Author: Larry K and Lorna Collins
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Also available through Amazon
Synopsis: In Book 1 Murder They wrote we meet up with Agape Jones, a NYPD detective who retired from the job after a shooting injury ended his long time career. From there him and his wife moved to Hawaii , where she took a job teaching English at the college and Agape would spend time loafing, fishing or whatever retired people like to do. Only that didn’t work, it wasn’t long till he was involved in solving a murder case and now as we open book 2 we find him right in the midst of another murder.
When a body turns up floating in the ocean still tied to his surfboard, questions start flying. Who is he? How did he get to where they found him at? He couldn’t have been in the water that long? Turns up he is Philip Fowler professional surfer , the missing son of a well known State Senator Thomas Fowler. When the senator hired Agape to find his son’s killer he has to leave his home for a while, but how can he explain to his wife who wants him to quit without really lying to her. Reluctantly she agrees to him going away for a bit. As Agape soon discovers there may be more to this murder than expected. With several different suspects, Agape is beginning to wonder who he can trust to talk to. With the loner car and his hotel room being bugged, he leaves them in place but makes sure he watches what he says or who he talks to as he tries to solve this latest mystery. With other things going on at the time are they all somehow connected together? Did Philip see something that led to his murder? Is his older brother jealous or him or his girlfriend mad at him? Can you figure it out?
As with the first book this is a very well written cozy mystery that keeps one involved in the book right to the very end. If I thought I had it figured out I was wrong. I really enjoy this Agape Mystery Series and not sure how many there will be but I know I will keep up with them. I have been fortunate to have read every book that the authors have written together and the ones that Lorna has written with other authors. If you have never read any of their books then you are in for a real treat. They are cleanly written with a Christian attitude to them but not preachy. Recommended for all ages.
I would like to thank the authors for once again giving me the opportunity to read their newest book.
Canoers Catch A Corpse!
I already like the way the Collinses write cuz I read their memoir: 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park & their first cozy Hawaiian mystery: Murder... They Wrote.
In this story of sunshine, sea, delicious food & Agape Jones, medically retired NYPD detective, is added traditional canoeing & surfing when our very married hero paddles off with his crew & comes upon the floating corpse of the youngest son of a local politician.
This husband & wife team get better with each book &, as B4, their bouquets also contain morsels of drama, a touch of suspense, a good dose of vengeance & a little bit of marital humor.