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The Lava Witch

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The grim hard facts of a bizarre ritual murder collide with local legends of sorcery and possession for Maui detective Kali Māhoe. In a remote, mountainous area of a Maui forest near Haleakala volcano, the naked body of a young woman is found hanging from a tree. The devil is in the details: the woman’s nostrils, mouth, and lungs are packed with lava sand. Her hands are bou The grim hard facts of a bizarre ritual murder collide with local legends of sorcery and possession for Maui detective Kali Māhoe. In a remote, mountainous area of a Maui forest near Haleakala volcano, the naked body of a young woman is found hanging from a tree. The devil is in the details: the woman’s nostrils, mouth, and lungs are packed with lava sand. Her hands are bound in twine. Her feet are charred and blackened, suggesting a fire-walking ceremony. Detective Kali Māhoe’s suspicions are immediately aroused. It has all the signs of a ritual torture and murder. But Kali’s investigation soon leads her down a winding trail of seemingly unconnected clues and diverging paths—from the hanging tree itself, a rare rainbow eucalyptus, to rumors of a witch haunting the high areas of the forest, to the legend of the ancient Hawaiian sorceress Pahulu, goddess of nightmares. Casting a shadow over it all—the possibility of a Sitting God, a spirit said to invade and possess the soul. Aided by her uncle Police Captain Walter Alaka’i, Officer David Hara, and the victim’s brother, Kali embarks down the darkest road of all. One that is leading to the truth of the mountain’s deadly core and a dark side of the island for which even Kali is unprepared.


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The grim hard facts of a bizarre ritual murder collide with local legends of sorcery and possession for Maui detective Kali Māhoe. In a remote, mountainous area of a Maui forest near Haleakala volcano, the naked body of a young woman is found hanging from a tree. The devil is in the details: the woman’s nostrils, mouth, and lungs are packed with lava sand. Her hands are bou The grim hard facts of a bizarre ritual murder collide with local legends of sorcery and possession for Maui detective Kali Māhoe. In a remote, mountainous area of a Maui forest near Haleakala volcano, the naked body of a young woman is found hanging from a tree. The devil is in the details: the woman’s nostrils, mouth, and lungs are packed with lava sand. Her hands are bound in twine. Her feet are charred and blackened, suggesting a fire-walking ceremony. Detective Kali Māhoe’s suspicions are immediately aroused. It has all the signs of a ritual torture and murder. But Kali’s investigation soon leads her down a winding trail of seemingly unconnected clues and diverging paths—from the hanging tree itself, a rare rainbow eucalyptus, to rumors of a witch haunting the high areas of the forest, to the legend of the ancient Hawaiian sorceress Pahulu, goddess of nightmares. Casting a shadow over it all—the possibility of a Sitting God, a spirit said to invade and possess the soul. Aided by her uncle Police Captain Walter Alaka’i, Officer David Hara, and the victim’s brother, Kali embarks down the darkest road of all. One that is leading to the truth of the mountain’s deadly core and a dark side of the island for which even Kali is unprepared.

56 review for The Lava Witch

  1. 5 out of 5

    Annarella

    I thoroughly enjoyed the first mystery in this series and loved this one as it brought on me a trip where police procedures, investigation, and magical lore mixes. Kali is a an expert in Hawaii lore and magic and a clever detective. She and her team will solve a bizzarre, cruel murder that features all the elements of a ritual and a possible ritual killing. It was a fast paced story that I read in a sitting and couldn't put down. There's a cast of interesting characters, the dark side of paradise I thoroughly enjoyed the first mystery in this series and loved this one as it brought on me a trip where police procedures, investigation, and magical lore mixes. Kali is a an expert in Hawaii lore and magic and a clever detective. She and her team will solve a bizzarre, cruel murder that features all the elements of a ritual and a possible ritual killing. It was a fast paced story that I read in a sitting and couldn't put down. There's a cast of interesting characters, the dark side of paradise and the mythology of Hawaii. The mystery is solid, I didn't guessed any twist or the solution and it kept me on the edge till the end. Even if it's the third in a series it can be read as a stand alone. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

    “The Lava Witch” by Debra Bokur is a thrilling and intense murder-mystery novel that weaves Hawaiian folklore with Maui’s darker and more vicious secrets. In this fast-paced and highly addictive read, readers are pulled into a world full of illusions, deception, and the mysterious inner workings of gods and goddesses. In this third book of the Dark Paradise Mystery series, detective Kali Māhoe is called to a popular hiking route in the mountains near Haleakala. A woman has been found hanging from “The Lava Witch” by Debra Bokur is a thrilling and intense murder-mystery novel that weaves Hawaiian folklore with Maui’s darker and more vicious secrets. In this fast-paced and highly addictive read, readers are pulled into a world full of illusions, deception, and the mysterious inner workings of gods and goddesses. In this third book of the Dark Paradise Mystery series, detective Kali Māhoe is called to a popular hiking route in the mountains near Haleakala. A woman has been found hanging from a tree with her wrists bound and her feet charred. Kali believes these are all signs of a ritual with the intent to torture and kill. The deeper Kali digs into the mystery surrounding this woman’s death and who might possibly have the motives to kill her, the more she gains the attention of the killer (or killers) involved. Suddenly, her home no longer feels like a place of safety and the people around her are getting hurt. It’s clear that whoever’s responsible for the death of this woman, and the rumors arising about a witch haunting the forest will stop at nothing to keep their secrets hidden. Though “The Lava Witch” is the third installment to the Kali Māhoe series, it can be read as a standalone. As a forewarning to picking up this book, make sure all plans are canceled because the events will easily consume readers from start to finish. It is an unpredictable story with an excellent crew of characters. Kali is a favorite due to her headstrong nature and strong empathetic connection to others which make her an incredible detective and an easy person to relate to. Bokur allows readers to be swept up in a murder mystery but also gives those sweet, personal moments in which Kali’s personality is able to shine the brightest. The addition of Hawaiian folklore and mythology adds a lot of depth and divine superstition around the murder mystery that takes place. It's a great way for readers who are unfamiliar with these myths to learn a bit more about the culture of Maui. Paired with the death of a young woman in the woods, it adds a paranormal element to the story itself that makes it impossible to figure out what is happening on Maui and who might be responsible for the chaos. Those who enjoy mythology, murder mysteries, and a sweet escape are going to be captivated by Kali and the disturbing mystery behind a young woman’s brutal and torturous death. Be on the lookout for Kali’s next mystery on May 31st, 2022 when “The Lava Witch” officially hits the shelves! A big thank you to both NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing me with a free e-arc of this novel and the opportunity to share my honest opinion in this review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    The Lava Witch by Debra Bokur is a plausible mystery with believable characters. I liked learning the Hawaiian words for things, but it did get tedious after a while and would draw my attention away from the story. I would rate this a 3.5 out of 5 stars. A good mystery, good writing, and an enjoyable afternoon read. #TheLavaWitch #NetGalley @KensingtonBooks

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ileana Renfroe

    The Lava Witch is set in a remote mountainous area of Maui Forest near Haleakala volcano where the body of a woman is found hanging from a tree. The detective on the case thinks there is a lot of similarity to a ritual torture. Aided by her uncle Police Captain Walter Alaka’i, Officer David Hara, and the victim’s brother, Kali embarks down the darkest road of all. One that is leading to the truth of the mountain’s deadly core and a dark side of the island for which even Kali is unprepared. Enjoyed The Lava Witch is set in a remote mountainous area of Maui Forest near Haleakala volcano where the body of a woman is found hanging from a tree. The detective on the case thinks there is a lot of similarity to a ritual torture. Aided by her uncle Police Captain Walter Alaka’i, Officer David Hara, and the victim’s brother, Kali embarks down the darkest road of all. One that is leading to the truth of the mountain’s deadly core and a dark side of the island for which even Kali is unprepared. Enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading more by this author.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Talk about plot twists! And lots of information about Hawai'ian indigenous history/culture most of us mainlanders can only read about. The publisher's blurb is well done and certainly had ME hooked! It's a fast moving and engrossing story that I found hard to put down. I count this one as another win for the author! Police detective Kali Mahoe is a degreed cultural anthropologist/spiritual leader of her people. I loved the imagery of the island lore as well as the personalities of the characters Talk about plot twists! And lots of information about Hawai'ian indigenous history/culture most of us mainlanders can only read about. The publisher's blurb is well done and certainly had ME hooked! It's a fast moving and engrossing story that I found hard to put down. I count this one as another win for the author! Police detective Kali Mahoe is a degreed cultural anthropologist/spiritual leader of her people. I loved the imagery of the island lore as well as the personalities of the characters. Sometimes I'd get lost in the lore and have to go back to catch a thread of the investigation, but then I'm a history geek. This is not an unbiased review because I enjoyed the first ones so much and eagerly awaited this one. You don't need to read the other books first, but you'll probably want to read them afterward. I got mine in audio so I could hear the unfamiliar words pronounced correctly. I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from Kensington Books via NetGalley. Thank you!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Bush

    I really enjoyed this mystery, Debra Bokur really brings the setting to life, and despite the horrible nature of the murder really makes me want to visit Hawaii. I love trying to figure out whats going on along side Kali as she is tying to put all these puzzle pieces together. This crime seems to have some sort of spiritual aspect, and Kali is definitely the one to solve the crime. Its fast paced and you wont want to put it down until the very end.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Suanne

    The Lava Witch, is the third in the Dark Paradise Mystery Series, but it reads well as a standalone novel. I like it enough to consider going back and reading #1 and #2. There are enough hints as to the background of Kali Māhoe, a detective with the Maui Police Department. Kali is also a kahu, a spiritual leader in her Hawaiian community, so designated by her grandmother. Kali has been called to a bizarre crime scene where a young woman has been tortured and killed. Because of her ties to the sp The Lava Witch, is the third in the Dark Paradise Mystery Series, but it reads well as a standalone novel. I like it enough to consider going back and reading #1 and #2. There are enough hints as to the background of Kali Māhoe, a detective with the Maui Police Department. Kali is also a kahu, a spiritual leader in her Hawaiian community, so designated by her grandmother. Kali has been called to a bizarre crime scene where a young woman has been tortured and killed. Because of her ties to the spiritual aspects of Hawai’i, her methods are somewhat unorthodox, in this case guided by stories in a book written by her grandmother. Kali is also haunted, damaged by the killing of her long-time boyfriend by drug dealers. I enjoyed the atmosphere and how author Bokur made the glamorous Hawaiian islands dark and forbidding. There were lots of twists and turns in the plot as well.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jane MacKinnon

    I have throughly enjoyed this book.I don’t like reading a book out of order but enjoyed the characters and the setting but most of all I have just downloaded the first book in the series. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a nice enjoyable read and learn about Australia and all,things Australian.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This ARC was provided to me via Kindle, Kensington Books and by #NetGalley. Opinions expressed are completely my own. I quite appreciate a title keeps me entertained and engaged throughout, mission accomplished. Characters are well written, formed and play off others. . They come to life making it relatable.

  10. 4 out of 5

    KerryO

    Homicide Detective Kali Māhoe investigates the torture murder of a young woman on Maui, close to her own home. This is a well written serial with suspense and well-developed characters. The reader is introduced to Hawaiian legends, their meanings and influence on present day Hawaiians. I anxiously await the next book in this series. I received an ARC from NetGalley, and the opinions expressed are my own. #TheLavaWitch #NetGalley.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. The Lava Witch is the third modern procedural mystery in the Dark Paradise series by Debra Bokur. Released 31st May 2022 by Kensington, it's 304 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the e-book format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of e-books with interactive formats lately. I've enjoyed seeing this series develop. Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. The Lava Witch is the third modern procedural mystery in the Dark Paradise series by Debra Bokur. Released 31st May 2022 by Kensington, it's 304 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the e-book format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of e-books with interactive formats lately. I've enjoyed seeing this series develop. There's a strong female main protagonist who is intelligent, active, and direct. She's driven and not defined by her romantic interests. She's an interesting dichotomy, both a logical, science based investigator, as well as the granddaughter (and heir) of a well respected Native Hawai'ian spiritual leader and historian. She has a good rapport with her colleagues and uses their strengths to investigate and solve crimes. The opening murder in this installment is quite bizarre and ritualistic. It's a modern procedural and as such, there is some moderately graphic content; mostly in the descriptions of the crime and crime scene. Language is mildly PG, a few "damns" and nothing worse. It's well written throughout and the descriptions of places and settings are very well done and easy to imagine. Although it's the third book in the series, it works very well as a standalone. The author is adept at providing necessary backstory information without dumping too much info on the reader at once. The mystery is self contained and the plotting is satisfying and complex. The major storyline is moderately foreshadowed, but there were some surprises at the denouement. Four stars. Capably written with a strong and sympathetic protagonist, and set in gorgeous surroundings which feature significantly in the action. This would be a good choice for public library acquisition, for fans of the genre, and for mystery bookclubs (or for a buddy read). Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    An interesting procedural that blends modern murder with Hawaiian folklore. Someone murdered Maya Louise Holmes in a dramatic and gory way that shrieks ritual murder to Maui Det. Kali Mahoe. This isn't the Hawaii in the travel posters. It's a darker more ominous Hawaii. Was Holmes killed because of her work? Or was she chosen for another reason? And what the heck was the band of witches that some saw flying through the woods? Kali works with her uncle and others to sort through the legends and f An interesting procedural that blends modern murder with Hawaiian folklore. Someone murdered Maya Louise Holmes in a dramatic and gory way that shrieks ritual murder to Maui Det. Kali Mahoe. This isn't the Hawaii in the travel posters. It's a darker more ominous Hawaii. Was Holmes killed because of her work? Or was she chosen for another reason? And what the heck was the band of witches that some saw flying through the woods? Kali works with her uncle and others to sort through the legends and folklore to get to the truth. No spoilers from me. I learned a great deal from this,, which was a standalone for me despite being the third in a series. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Not a cozy, for sure and a very good read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    LittleRead

    Kali Mahoe is called to the scene of a murder and it appears to be one tied to a ritual, but which one, she does not know. Soon she is chasing her suspects alibis, means, motives and opportunities. Who killed this promising you woman and why? More over, what if the rumor of a witch practicing in the area are true? Kali aims to unravel the clues, lies and rituals to solve the case, even when her own safety is at stake. This is the first book I have read in this series and I am hooked! The pace was Kali Mahoe is called to the scene of a murder and it appears to be one tied to a ritual, but which one, she does not know. Soon she is chasing her suspects alibis, means, motives and opportunities. Who killed this promising you woman and why? More over, what if the rumor of a witch practicing in the area are true? Kali aims to unravel the clues, lies and rituals to solve the case, even when her own safety is at stake. This is the first book I have read in this series and I am hooked! The pace was just right, the whodunit well written and the Hawaiian lore and history was woven in so well. The characters are well developed and the writing is solid. Going to read the first two books and wait for the fourth to come out. It’s that good!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Kallenbach

    THRILLING SUSPENSE ON EVERY PAGE Set in Hawaii, THE LAVA WITCH has lots of twists and turns that kept me reading way past bedtime. I especially love this murder-mystery series featuring Kali Mahoe, a strong, female detective—all too rare in this genre. Kali is smart, tough, and devoted to her work, but she’s not a masochist or emotionally maimed like some fictional detectives. Instead, she’s heartfelt and human—and she has a huge Great Dane/ Weimeraner-mix dog who helps out from time to time. Add THRILLING SUSPENSE ON EVERY PAGE Set in Hawaii, THE LAVA WITCH has lots of twists and turns that kept me reading way past bedtime. I especially love this murder-mystery series featuring Kali Mahoe, a strong, female detective—all too rare in this genre. Kali is smart, tough, and devoted to her work, but she’s not a masochist or emotionally maimed like some fictional detectives. Instead, she’s heartfelt and human—and she has a huge Great Dane/ Weimeraner-mix dog who helps out from time to time. Add in the island vibe contrasted by a chilling murder, and you’ve got what I think is the perfect summer read!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rae Chalmers

    This is the third book in the Dark Paradise Mystery series set on Maui with Detective Kali Mahoe. When a young scientist is discovered brutally murdered in the forest there are suggestions of witchcraft, and the ancient Hawaiian sorceress Pahulu. The island setting is vivid with descriptions of plants, wildlife, rain and rainbows. Historic knowledge is celebrated and woven through the plot. The beauty is in sharp contrast to the very real problems facing all communities, even paradise, as homeless This is the third book in the Dark Paradise Mystery series set on Maui with Detective Kali Mahoe. When a young scientist is discovered brutally murdered in the forest there are suggestions of witchcraft, and the ancient Hawaiian sorceress Pahulu. The island setting is vivid with descriptions of plants, wildlife, rain and rainbows. Historic knowledge is celebrated and woven through the plot. The beauty is in sharp contrast to the very real problems facing all communities, even paradise, as homelessness, drug addiction and sex trafficking are laid bare. Bokur ties together several plots with interesting characters and gritty details that keep the pages turning

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    The Lava Witch by Debra Bokur is instalment three in the author's Dark Paradise Mystery series and my first. Witchy vibes feature in this twisted suspense-filled tale. A young woman has been tortured before being killed and Kali Māhoe, a detective with the Maui Police Department, goes to investigate. A great read which has whetted my appetite enough to pick up the first two books. I received a complimentary copy of this novel, at my own request, from Kensington Books via NetGalley. This review is The Lava Witch by Debra Bokur is instalment three in the author's Dark Paradise Mystery series and my first. Witchy vibes feature in this twisted suspense-filled tale. A young woman has been tortured before being killed and Kali Māhoe, a detective with the Maui Police Department, goes to investigate. A great read which has whetted my appetite enough to pick up the first two books. I received a complimentary copy of this novel, at my own request, from Kensington Books via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leith Devine

    Set in Maui, this fascinating detective story takes the reader from the coast into the mountain rainforest. It looks like someone has been trying to practice ancient Hawaiian rituals, and the result is a dead girl. This is a gripping read! Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed as in this review are completely my own.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lira

  19. 4 out of 5

    Véro

  20. 4 out of 5

    Donald C Randall

  21. 4 out of 5

    Delbert Stapleford

  22. 5 out of 5

    Janie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Austin Moller

  24. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Tripp

  25. 4 out of 5

    Betty

  26. 5 out of 5

    Martie

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ruth ann

  28. 5 out of 5

    Challenger

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leith Devine

  30. 5 out of 5

    REMEMBER UKRAINE NOW ReadingReindeer

  31. 4 out of 5

    Kristy Johnston

  32. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Kelly

  33. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  34. 4 out of 5

    Lady of The Rock

  35. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

  36. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

  37. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

  38. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

  39. 5 out of 5

    Liz1112

  40. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  41. 4 out of 5

    DB in Richmond

  42. 4 out of 5

    Jane

  43. 5 out of 5

    Jill

  44. 5 out of 5

    Mia Crimson

  45. 5 out of 5

    Dana

  46. 5 out of 5

    Barb

  47. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Mensing

  48. 4 out of 5

    Fyre.Katz

  49. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Stoltey

  50. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  51. 5 out of 5

    Crissy

  52. 4 out of 5

    Patty Ellenberger-McGrath

  53. 5 out of 5

    Yoch

  54. 5 out of 5

    Lori Moad

  55. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Zampetti

  56. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Galbusieri

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