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Thursday, January 26, 2012


January 2012 Amazon Digital Services in tandem with BookSparks PR
Review Copy (Kindle)

Important Stats

Genre Crime Fiction/Murder Mystery
Re-Readable yes
Recommend to a Friend yes - if they like scary stuff with a psychological twist
If This Book Were a Movie it would be a major Oscar contender with a cast of unknowns who just found their way to stardom.

The Blurb

Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water— but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise.

Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. The girl’s harsh life and tragic death touches a chord with Lei, and she becomes obsessed with the case. The killer is drawn to her intensity and stalks her, feeding on her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.

Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei’s quest for answers. She finds herself falling in love for the first time—but the stalker is closer than she can imagine, and threads of the past are tangled in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer—but he already knows where she lives.

My Thoughts
Don't read this book at night. Don't read it with the doors unlocked. Don't read it when someone might unexpectedly walk up and touch you on the shoulder because you'll scream.

Crime fiction ranges from cozy mysteries with cats to noir crime fiction, and BLOOD ORCHIDS is anything but cozy. Not quite noir, and avoiding the gore that would throw it into the horror genre, BLOOD ORCHID is sand-between-your-toes realistic crime fiction. Author Toby Neal is a mental health therapist and it shoes in the writing, the mind games and psychological horror of this are worthy of the best in the genre.

-- The Good --
Even if you can't afford a vacation to Hawaii you can go visit with this book. The author incorporates the details of the islands and the culture seamlessly with the page-turning plot. This isn't a book you can put down. The pacing is excellent, the characters realistic, and the action is intense. The main character's POV is perfectly juxtaposed with brief commentary from the antagonist, and that only ups the ante.

--The Bad--
If you're looking for a cozy murder that safe and slightly humorous, this isn't the book for you. BLOOD ORCHIDS is dark. There are layers of this book that touch on some of the most painful and heinous crimes of the human race. The only other complaint I can see is with the names, which are authentic Hawaiian names and not the usual Anglo-Saxon, Biblical derivatives you see in most contemporary fiction. For people who don't like non-standard names or are unfamiliar with the Hawaiian culture, this may be a stumbling block. A pronounciation guide at the beginning wouldn't have gone amiss, but I don't think the names will be enough to turn anyone away from the book.

Who Should Read This Book?
Anyone who loves crime novels, shows like CSI or NYPD, or wants a feel for what it's like to work an intense murder case. Fans of True Crime novels will appreciate the realistic feel of BLOOD ORCHIDS and sci-fi/fantasy fans looking to branch out into contemporary fiction will find the intelligent characters in an exotic setting appealing.


Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii and makes the Islands home after living elsewhere for “stretches of exile” to pursue education. Toby enjoys outdoor activities including bodyboarding, scuba diving, photography and hiking as well as writing. A mental health therapist, she credits that career with adding depth to the characters in the Lei Crime Series.


  1. I clicked through to here from Toby's twitter feed. I'm glad I did.

    I downloaded a sample of Blood Orchids from Amazon. Haven't read it yet, but I'm already leaning towards buying the book. Good review.