Pleasing the Dead

Most people would call spending five days on Maui a vacation, but the day attorney Storm Kayama arrives in Kahului to help Lara Farrell set up her new dive shop, someone bombs a restaurant. And then things get serious.


Some nasty predators dwell in paradise, and they aren’t all hiding in the azure waters. When one of Lara’s employees kills himself and one of his young daughters, Storm asks questions and begins to make discoveries she never wanted to know.


“The men like them very young, you know. They call it selling spring,” Lara’s manager told Storm. Stella’s gaze flickers to where bone-thin Keiko restocks file drawers.


“How did you get her away from them?” Storm isn’t just asking about Keiko, and Stella knows it.


Coaxing information from the terrified women, Storm finds that the shadowy Yakuza, one of the most efficient organized crime cults in the world, is developing a big business in trafficking women—right here in the islands. Comfortable with the diverse cultures, the group’s tentacles ensnare local businesses, real estate, and politics.


Storm finds herself up against a lethal and faceless enemy, in a place where disposing of a victim is as easy as dumping her in shark-infested waters. But who is hunting whom? Storm learns that surviving doesn’t always mean living. For some, the ghosts of the past may be more painful than the anguish of the present.

“This is the fourth of the Storm Kayama books and I think one of the strongest. Author Atkinson’s series brings the Hawaiian Islands alive for readers. These are not just mysteries set in Hawaii, the mysteries are ingrained in the Hawaiian culture. They reflect the day to day life on the islands from the beautiful landscape to the traffic snarls. Through the plots of her books, she explores the modern day conflicts between the various ethnic mixes of the residents against the native Hawaiian culture. While I can’t imagine a reader not wanting to read all four of the books in order, each of these books stands alone quite nicely serving as an introduction to the series.”

Caryn St. Clair

“The beautiful island of Maui is the real star of this show. Atkinson has thoughtfully included a map to help the reader follow the action. Although attorney Storm Kayama is the protagonist, the character that lingers in my mind is Ichiru Tagama, a Japanese gentleman of the old school who gets caught in the grip of the Japanese crime organization Yakuza. Tagama’s progression from real estate tycoon to doting father to pragmatist facing reality parallels Storm’s investigations into a client’s proposed dive shop. In my favorite chapter, Lara takes Storm snorkeling. Twenty to 30 feet down, the water is so clear they can see 50 feet in any direction. Storm marvels at the way they are watched by sea creatures that nevertheless go on about their business. Suddenly Lara is knocked galley-west by a four-foot, white-tipped reef shark. She’s badly frightened by the attack from a shark she calls Bruce and considers to be her family totem, or protector. We will meet Bruce the shark again. Pleasing the Dead is an absorbing read on several levels. There’s a glossary of Hawaiian words in the back.”


“Attorney Storm Kayama travels to Kahului, Maui to discuss with her client Lara Farrell the legal aspects of opening up a dive shop. Soon after she arrives in Kahului, she hears a loud explosion that occurred in a nearby restaurant.
Visiting the under construction dive shop, Storm observes a foreman council a drunken Japanese laborer for breaking the rule of not working under the influence as one can be a danger to one’s self and others. Soon after receiving the verbal reprimand, the worker Hiroki commits an apparent murder-suicide killing one of his two daughters. Unable to resist Storm investigates what drove the man to kill himself and his child starting with the still powerful ancient “coconut wireless” communication system, in which the gossip ties Hiroki to the Yakuza Japanese mob.
The keys to the exciting Kayama tales (see The Green Room, Primitive Secrets, and Fire Prayer) are the deep look into Native Hawaiian mythology and the hidden from tourists underside of paradise. The story line is fast-paced, starting off as a legal thriller, but as with the previous Stormy stories quickly turns into a dangerous investigative tale. Fans will enjoy tour guide Deborah Turrell Atkinson’s exciting Hawaii Paradise adventures.”

Harriet Klausner

“This is a skillfully plotted mystery with loving descriptions of Maui beaches, some tidbits of Hawaii folklore (e.g. the animal amulets Lora and Storm wear and believe in), and a lot of fascinating background on the gritty underbelly of Hawaii that tourists never see. Readers interested in Hawaii should love the setting…But the characters and the plot are equally appealing. Storm is an intelligent, believable heroine who is a relatively sensible detective. She even has a promising romantic relationship. And she obviously loves Hawaii and its ethnic diversity. Furthermore, Atkinson’s colorful supporting characters mirror both the good and bad aspects of current Hawaiian life. In fact, many of the characters have emotional scars and tragic secrets as a result of the Yakuza’s sleazy, immoral business practices.”

Beverly DeWeese, Mystery Scene Magazine

“Rich with Hawaiian folklore, Atkinson’s convoluted fourth mystery to feature attorney Storm Kayama (after 2007’s Fire Prayer) explores the dark side of paradise. Soon after Storm arrives in Kahului, Maui, where she’s handling the legalities of setting up a new dive shop for a client, Lara Farrell, she hears of a deadly explosion at a town restaurant. At Lara’s dive shop, which is still under construction, Storm witnesses a Japanese workman, Hiroki, being reprimanded for drunkenness and, later, another employee sobbing. When Hiroki kills himself and one of his two daughters, Storm reaches out to the second daughter, who survived the attack. Drawing on her knowledge of local customs and the “coconut wireless,” Hawaii’s gossip chain, Storm finds links between the recent tragedies and the yakuza, a Japanese crime organization active in the islands. Readers will root for the strong, likable Storm as she uncovers secrets on an island that’s only idyllic on the surface.”

Publishers Weekly

“Attorney Storm Kayama (Primitive Secrets; The Green Room; Fire Prayer) is helping Lara Farrell open a dive shop on the island of Maui when a restaurant bombing and the suicide of one of Lara’s employees draws Storm into the web of the yakuza, the Japanese mob. Suspense and a fast-moving plot enhance this tale set in the Hawaiian Islands.”

Library Journal