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After participating in a search for MIA remains in Vietnam, Sara nearly loses her life investigating a missing child case in Hawaii. Someone means to keep the cold case cold.
Sara Mason’s dedication to solving missing person cold cases with love interest, Huxley Keane, includes accompanying him into the Vietnam jungle searching for his MIA brother’s remains. Their friend, Esmerelda, accompanies them. Her daughter was abducted along with Huxley’s brother. Scant remains are found and await identification.
Sara has purchased a home on the island of Kauai for use as an R&R stopover by the veterans who make frequent trips between the U.S. Mainland and Vietnam. Sara learns that a six-year-old neighborhood girl went missing ten years earlier and strangely, dogs howl when taken high on the forest cliffs. Accompanied by a neighbor’s retired forensic dog, Sara wants to learn why dogs react in the forest.
Someone wants the missing child cold case to stay cold. Attempts are made on Sara’s life and continue as she investigates the little girl’s disappearance. Sara is gravely injured after being run off the road and later pushed over a cliff. She is dazed and alone at night on a narrow ledge over a thousand foot cliffside where she discovers a frightful scene. The forensic dog leads Sara and the police to a second disgusting site that explodes the case wide open and exposes an elusive murderer’s motives, revenge and victims.
Oka had been taking still photos of the area and their progress. Hale resumed digging on the right side of the hole where the remnants were found. He was deeper into the hard pack clay when he brought out another remnant, then another tiny piece. Sara strained to see the fabric, not knowing what to expect. Could it be left over garbage from the pineapple plantations that used to cover the area?
Suddenly, Hale said, “Oh-oh.” He bent down and worked something out of the ground with his fingers and brought up a small item caked with red clay. He held it up for all to see. “Looks to be a piece of bone,” he said.
“Yah, he eat here,” Bao said. “Barbeque many time.”
Birdie snickered. “Look around,” she said. “He throws leftover bones in the yard and he doesn’t even have a dog.”
The officers saw the rib bones which had been thrown askew during Maleko’s recent barbeque when Hien had visited.
“He barbeque whole pig,” Bao said, gesturing toward the large barbeque pit and waving his arms. “Smell all over valley.”
Officer Makamai put up a finger, calling for attention.“You saying he recently barbequed a whole pig?”
Bao paused. “Whole... not sure, but big barbeque. Make big smoke, big smell.”
Officer Makamai turned and glanced at the rusting freezer chest against which he leaned. He opened the lid. Smelly frosty air tumbled out as he flagged a hand to clear it and peer inside. “Looks like he skinned a whole pig.” He leaned in for a closer look and then turned to the group. “An amateur too. He whacked it to pieces, but a half side of the carcass is still in here, not even wrapped.” Over the top of his face mask, he gave Sara one of his looks that said both knew what that could mean.
Finding the half-carcass could mean that Maleko was who skinned a whole wild pig and left the pelt as kapu up on the howling cliffs for her to find. The kapu was meant for her. So, too, was the blood message smeared in pig blood over the front of her house. Evidence was piling up against Maleko.
A hush had fallen over the scene. Det. Lio had been apprised of the attempts on Sara’s life. He glanced at her again, showing an expression of intense determination.
Oka had been handed the bone and stepped back, gently cleaning the piece. Sara leaned over his shoulder and observed that the bone was pocked but, overall, hadn’t deteriorated much. Finally, Oka gingerly held it up between fingertips for the group to see. “It’s a phalange of a human finger,” he said. “Definitely not a child’s bone.”