- Author: Debra Bokur
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The Dark Paradise Mysteries
by Debra Bokur
The Fire Thief
The Bone Field
THE BONE FIELD
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
Table of Contents
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
To the extent that the image or images on the cover of this book depict a person or persons, such person or persons are merely models, and are not intended to portray any character or characters featured in the book.
KENSINGTON BOOKS are published by
Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018
Copyright © 2021 by Debra A. Bokur-Rawsthorne
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
Library of Congress Card Catalogue Number: 2020952451
The K logo is a trademark of Kensington Publishing Corp.
First Kensington Hardcover Edition: June 2021
ISBN-13: 978-1-4967-2777-0 (ebook)
ISBN-10: 1-4967-2777-0 (ebook)
To my son, James Walker McDaniel:
Thank you for inspiring and delighting me each and every
day of your life, and for filling my own with awe and joy.
With my appreciation and deep gratitude to T. Ku‘uipo Alana for her generous assistance and invaluable insight on the spelling and pronunciation of the Hawaiian words, phrases, names, and places that appear in this book, and also in The Fire Thief. My thanks, too, to my family at Kensington, and to my readers—and to the islands of Hawai‘i for providing endless inspiration.
The midmorning sun hammered down on the old pineapple field’s rutted surface, imparting a relentless, blazing glare. The ocean breeze had failed, on a colossal scale, to deliver a cooler version of tropical air over the lip of the coastal cliffs and down into the Palawai Basin plains of Lna‘i Island’s central region. It was hot, and it was early, and it was going to get hotter.
Detective Kali Mhoe peered once again into the recesses of the freshly dug trench at her feet. She’d been in, out, and around the hole for most of the morning, and her sleeveless green T-shirt, tied in a messy knot just below her breasts, was soaked with sweat. Streaks of dirt partially obscured a tattoo encircling her upper left arm, depicting a stylized, slightly geometric interpretation of a thrusting spear.
At the bottom of the hole in front of her was an old refrigerator, its door flung open and partially resting on the mound of red-tinged dirt that had been created during its excavation. There was a small backhoe parked close by, on loan from the island’s community cemetery. It was close enough that she could feel the additional heat radiating from the surface of its recently used engine.
The area around the open ground had been enclosed by crime scene tape, while a makeshift tarp on poles covered the hole, tenting it from the unlikely possibility of wind interference on this unusually still morning, and fending off the sun’s glare for the benefit of the police photographer. In place of the abundant natural island light, bright, artificial lights had been set up around the perimeter, angled to illuminate the depths of the hole.
The tarp had proven completely ineffective at providing any semblance of shade. In the trench, Maui medical examiner Mona Stitchard—commonly known as “Stitches,” but only behind her back—was kneeling beside the refrigerator, taking measurements and making notes in a small book. Her hooded, sterile white plastic jumpsuit clung to her arms and the sides of her face, held in place against her skin by a layer of perspiration. Kali could see that her narrow eyeglasses were sliding down her nose.
Kali studied the peculiar contents of the open refrigerator, then took a long swig of water from a bottle hooked onto her belt, leaning her head back as a few drops trickled down off the edge of her chin.
Police Captain Walter Alaka’i walked up and stood beside her. He regarded the refrigerator with curiosity, his frown giving way to a row of creases in his wide brow. “Well, I gotta say this is definitely a new one. Any brilliant initial thoughts you’re not sharing?”
Kali shook her head, considering the question. “Sorry. Nothing yet, beyond the obvious, slightly bizarre component.”
She looked away, across the field, and then back down into the hole. What she didn’t say was that she was keenly aware of a residual sadness and loss still clinging to this space, filling the molecules of earth around her feet, newly disturbed after untold years.
Stitches glanced up at Kali and Walter.
“Well, I suppose we all like a challenge.” She waved her arm at a fly buzzing by her face. “And this should certainly be interesting.”
The three of them regarded the derelict refrigerator. It was an older General Electric model, with a single, large main compartment and a smaller freezer door on the top. The shelves from the main compartment were missing.
“My mother had a refrigerator like this one,” said Walter, pointing at it with the opened bottle of water he was holding. “And a matching stove. She was crazy proud of them. Horrible shade of yellow, if you ask me.”
“Technically, the color is harvest gold,” said Stitches. “Hugely popular from the 1960s all the way through the ’70s.”