Read any Good Mystery Novels Lately?

Action, adventure and insights into Hawaiian culture. While trying to prove herself as a new detective, Lily Graham is going to learn more about her past and herself than she wants to know.

Following is a possible blurb on the book’s dust jacket. You know—that old-fashioned cover flap you used to read when trying to decide whether to buy the book. I hope you find it intriguing.

HPD Detective Lily Graham discovers long-hidden secrets in an underground lava-tube on Hawaii's Big Island

HPD Detective Lily Graham discovers long-hidden secrets in an underground lava-tube on Hawaii’s Big Island

When the body of socialite Helen Dupree is found dismembered in a shark tank at the Honolulu Aquarium, newly minted HPD homicide detective Lily Graham is assigned to her first murder case.

To complicate matters, someone is stealing from ancient Hawaiian burial sites, and Lily’s Hawaiian ancestors contact her for help. Haunted by visions of rituals and human sacrifice, Lily is guided to the lava fields of Hawaii’s Big Island where she comes face to face with a deadly 700-year-old priest and is led on a hunt for a cunning grave robber who may hold the key to Helen Dupree’s murder.

To solve the case and appease her ancestors, Lily must not only interpret the visions and make sense of obscure clues left behind by Helen Dupree, but also fend off a diabolical killer who stands between her and the truth—a truth that will change her life forever.

Just as Tony Hillerman’s Native American mysteries unveil the Navajo culture and the rugged landscape of the American Southwest, The Shark God’s Keeper reveals the hidden culture of Native Hawaiians and showcases the mysterious, volcanic landscape of the world’s most remote archipelago.

Jennifer Crites is the co-author of Sharks and Rays of Hawaii (Mutual Publishing 2002), a nature book, which includes a chapter detailing the significance of sharks in Hawaiian culture. She’s written extensively about many aspects of Native Hawaiian culture as managing editor of ALOHA magazine and as a freelance writer for a number of local, national, and international publications.

Categories: Books, culture, Hawaii, History, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

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36 thoughts on “Read any Good Mystery Novels Lately?

  1. Jennifer, I would definitely buy this because I love a good thriller and this sounds a tad unusual with the breathtaking backdrop of Hawaii


    • So the visions and “Ghost Whisperer” parts wouldn’t put you off then? Mostly it’s a straight mystery/thriller, but Hawaiians believe that the spirits of ancestors are still around, influencing us, so the spirits have a part to play.


    • Outstanding! I would love to talk with your aunt. And I was hoping, with the success of Ghost Whisperer and Medium (and others) that readers would be more accepting now of spirit influence, especially since it’s part of the Hawaiian culture.


      • she was the gentlest soul I know and had the most amazing and sad life – coming from a irish roman catholic family of 13 when she started hearing voices they had her institutionalized but years later she came into her own and sadly passed last year but I feel her with me all the time


    • Oh, I’m so sorry to hear she passed away. Of course they would do that back then, wouldn’t they. There was so little understanding of anyone who was different. She obviously has a very strong presence to still be with you. It’s like the Hawaiians believe, our ancestors are still here, watching over us. You are so lucky to have her in your life.


  2. When will it be published?


    • I have a publisher who’s eager to get it, but I’m thinking of looking for an agent first (to work out foreign rights, movie rights, etc.), so I’m unsure of the time schedule. I’ve worked with book publishers before and they can be slow, or glacially slow. Maybe this time I’ll be surprised 🙂 My main character, Lily, is eager to get out into the world.


      • That bodes terribly well if you main character is bossing you around already! You’re right about an agent – good luck in tracking one down.


    • She’s pretty determined and has a mind of her own, as you will see when you read the book 🙂
      There are a lot of agents, but finding the right fit will probably take some work. I have been putting it off b/c blogging about my travels and reading other blogs is more fun, but it must be done before Lily really gets in my face.


  3. Jim

    Good blurb, good cover – though the forhead highlight was attracting my eyes. Are you going to self-publish as an ebook?


    • That highlight is rather a stand-out, isn’t it (I could tone it down). But this is just a composite cover I made, so it probably won’t end up on the final (although I’m glad you like it. I rather do, too). I’m heading in the direction of traditional publishing at the moment, but nothing is set in stone. We’ll see.


  4. Our Adventure in Croatia

    like this idea and would like to read more. Don’t like the front cover picture though, Angelina Jolie springs to mind in one of her movies


    • Many thanks for the comment, and I’m delighted you like the idea and want to read more. I really do appreciate specific feedback. While I’m a fan of Jolie myself, she shouldn’t be impersonating Lily 🙂


  5. I just posted a link on Hawaii Content Marketing’s FaceBook page on the pros and cons of traditional v indie publishing. The podcast from Minnesota Public Radio is riveting to anyone weighing their options. I can’t wait to read it. And truly, if you don’t acknowledge the spirit world in Hawaii, it isn’t OF Hawaii. Hawaii certainly is a special place.


    • So true about the spirit world in Hawaii, Lara. It’s simply a part of life in the Islands. And many thanks for directing me to the link. I will definitely have to fit that in.


  6. I cant wait to read it either – but must agree on the girl – way more Jolie than HPD. If I saw her on a cover I would not pick up the book.


    • Your “I can’t wait to read it,” is a phrase I love to read, and I really appreciate the feedback. Another girl, then, in a different outfit. I wonder how everyone feels about the Hawaiian figures in the background?


  7. Michelle Gillies

    It does sound intriguing. I like the intertwining of the historical part and current time. Of course, with a background like Hawaii it would definitely be on my must read list.


    • Thanks so much, Michelle. The publisher I spoke to told me they are specifically looking for Hawaii-based fiction. There’s so much colorful history and culture (as well as gorgeous scenery) In Hawaii, and much of it has been virtually untapped. Readers are in for a lot of interesting surprises.


  8. Gracious, Jennifer, you are a busy soul and the book sounds intriguing! All the best with its promotion!


    • Intriguing is good, and I’m delighted you think so, Kate. I think I’ll “borrow” and paraphrase the Beatles’ words and subhead it the Magical Mystery Tour of Hawaii. I’m digging in for the promotion part. I understand it will be a lot of work, but fun, too. I’ve done lots of book signings and speaking engagements (as co-author of a non-fiction book, Sharks and Rays of Hawaii), and I really enjoy connecting with readers.


  9. joyweesemoll

    I think this could use another draft. It seems to me it buries the lead. I don’t care much about this being the heroine’s first case. I care a lot about the dismemberment in a shark tank and the Hawaiian archaeology, but I’m not seeing the connection between the two quickly enough (I suspect I generally only read about the first 1.5 paragraphs of the back of a book–being an impatient sort).

    I like the fourth paragraph but I think I would reverse the order — make the Tony Hillerman clause the back half of the sentence and put your own stuff up front. And this comparison should definitely stay toward the end — it would close the sale if the first three paragraphs made the sale.

    It’s got real possibilities. As is, though, I’m not sure I would have bought it.



    • Thanks so much joy. I really appreciate the feedback.


      • Joy, does this work better, do you think?

        HPD homicide detective Lily Graham has a problem. She’s investigating the murder of socialite Helen Dupree, whose body has been found dismembered in a shark tank at the Honolulu Aquarium. At the same time, Hawaiian ancestors are haunting her dreams, sending visions of rituals and human sacrifice, and urging her to put a stop to thefts at ancient Hawaiian burial sites on Hawaii’s Big Island.

        But she can’t be at two places at once. Or can she?

        To solve the case and appease her ancestors, Lily must not only interpret the visions and make sense of obscure clues left behind by Helen Dupree, but also come face to face with a deadly 700-year-old priest while searching for a cunning grave robber who may hold the key to Helen Dupree’s murder.

        It’s a game of inches as Lily tries to fend off a diabolical killer who stands between her and the truth—a truth that will change her life forever.

        (then switch paragraphs 4 and 5)


      • joyweesemoll

        Yes! I like the new version very much! I love that tiny paragraphs in there that tantalizes me into reading more — very effective for lazy readers like me!


    • I think you are in the majority, Joy. Not lazy, but discerning. There’s a flood of new books out there, and the writeup has to be tantalizing from the get go. Nobody wants to waste time plowing through unnecessary verbiage to get to the meat (including me), so, again, I really appreciate the feedback.


  10. Aloha Jennifer,
    Knowing your background of extensive wonderful work with photos and articles about Hawaii, I am impressed with your latest endeavor writing a mystery novel based on spiritual beliefs of ancient and modern Hawaiians. Looks like you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Keoki and I are definitely interested in reading it, as we told you before!

    After having heard so many spiritual or ‘ghost’ stories from our Hawaiian friends and having been to most of Big Island’s sacred heiaus, we are very curious, how you were able to weave those into your novel.

    However, dear Jennifer…here is my reaction seeing an image of an ‘Angelina’ kind woman on your tentative cover: “Oh no I can’t believe that even Jennifer thinks she needs to rely on one of those current ‘mainstream’ image idols’! Please, nooooooo but maybe it’s just me? Good luck with your book.


    • Dear Pua, you know I value your opinion, and fear not, this is not the final cover. I needed something quick and temporary, and I’m sure the publisher will design their own cover. But I’m glad I posted this temporary one because it stirred discussion, and I’m always thrilled to have honest opinions, especially where it really counts. And you know this book is important to me. I want to know what readers think, and this has given me a good start.

      The two heiau that appear in the book are Pu’ukohola and Mo’okini. Quite a lot going on at Mo’okini, and its history of human sacrifice is included, of course. To be accurate, everything is based on the writings of Hawaiian scholars. I can’t wait for you to read it.


  11. Aloha again Jennifer,
    Interesting to hear about the two Heiaus you included in the novel. Pu’ukohola is located in Kawaihae on the South Kohala Coast and is actually totally ‘remodeled’, if one can say that about a heiau. Wonderful place to learn about the ancient Hawaii culture and traditions!

    On the other hand, Mo’okini on the way to Hawi in North Kohala is known more for being a spiritual heiau with the few visitors, who find their way there, reporting apparitions of kahunas and warriors and experiencing creepy feelings when walking around the heiau. For those not familiar with Hawaii’s heiaus, Mookini Heiau was also a luakini heiau, or a temple of human sacrifice. Good reason for getting chicken skin, I guess! And including it in your mystery novel!


    • Dear Pua,
      I’m so glad you wrote back to include some background information on the two heiau. Pu’ukohola, also known as Hill of the Whale, plays a pivotal role in my mystery novel, but Mo’okini—the temple of human sacrifice—is where a spine-tingling scene takes place, and for the exact reason you mention—apparitions. When I was at Mo’okini, I felt something, too. Could it be that people from the past were watching me? As you say, there are some who have felt and even seen ghosts. It is indeed a lonely spot and a spooky place. I feel a heiau post coming on.


  12. Jennifer, Mo’okini heiau has been and still is of great attraction to Big Island visitors who want to know more about Hawaiian heritage & ancient traditions. Sure a Mo’okini post would be of interest to many but I have my doubts that the writing schedule of ‘writecrites’ is running out of things to say about her travels around the world. Eager to read and see more in 2013.


    • You’re so right, Pua: writecrites is not running out of things to say about her travels around the world. She is, however, short on time to write them at the moment. Thank you for the encouragement. Please know that more posts of all types are coming soon—Hawaii and worldwide. That’s a promise 🙂


  13. Best wishes for health, happiness, peace, and prosperity to you and yours for 2013 and beyond.


  14. Sounds great! I know nothing about Hawaiian culture and love learning through good fiction. I have to agree with others about the cover. I like the Hawaiian figures in the background and would like to see Lily look like she fits there. So exciting. I look forward reading it.


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