Cultural anthropologists work to unravel the mysteries of different cultures through exploring their folklore, traditions, language and the people. Dinah Pelerin is trying to become a professional anthropologist, but finds herself using the skills she learned in college to unravel the mysteries surrounding her best friend's upcoming Hawaiian wedding, and the fiancées big real estate deal. The real estate deal is drawing protests from native Hawaiians, and one archaeologist has been murdered before Dinah even arrives on the islands. She doesn't quite trust the fiancée, nor his son-in-law, business partners - or really anyone she first meets. She even has some history with her best friend that needs to be sorted out, but she feels like she's not even getting the full truth from her. So what is going on here, and why does Dinah have a bad feeling about all of it? Can the truth be discovered before anyone else is killed?
This book is actually the second of a series, but I hadn't read the first book. There are a lot of things alluded too in this book that feels like probably originated in the first book, but I can't really be sure. This book does stand on its own, and while it definitely has room to move onto a third book - it is open ended enough that you really don't know where Dinah will end up next, or what the circumstances will be.
But back to this book.... I haven't read a whole lot of mysteries before - I have just recently discovered how much fun they can be to read when done right. This one did have me guessing, as any person or persons in the large cast of characters could have been the culprit. This character list is quite diverse, and I enjoyed most of them. There is always one or two that just annoy you, and of course that is done on purpose, but man! A few of them were over the top. Dinah herself was a bit flaky to me too, but I think I also take anthropology a little too seriously, having studied it myself. But honestly - it is always great to see a female character who is not completely preoccupied with sex and men, even though they both seem to be readily available.
The setting was what really hooked me though. I've never been to Hawaii, and it would be a dream to visit and see real volcanoes up close, walk on the sandy beaches, and drink fun drinks in coconuts. As they are central to the story and the characters - many Hawaiian legends were retold, and that will always fascinate me. Hawaiian folklore is incredibly rich and colorful and I would love to learn more about it. The names of the gods (except Pele - that's an easy one) started to get confusing, along with the common Hawaiian words worked into the conversations - but I just went with it.
All in all, it was an interesting mystery set in paradise. A different read for me, and something I think mystery lovers might really enjoy.
Bet Your Bones
by Jeanne Matthews
Poisoned Pen Press, June 2011
Source: ARC from Publisher
Series: Dinah Pelerin Mystery #2