Posted in All Book Reviews

A few drawbacks, but an interesting read: A Review of Death of a Messenger by Robert McCaw

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Death of a Messenger is not the first Robert McCaw book I’ve read, although it is the first in the Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery series. I had earlier read and reviewed Book #3 in the series – Fire and Vengeance. You can read its review here. The first two books were on my TBR, so I was quite excited when I received this book for a review. Read on to know more.




352 pages 


Detective Koa Kāne is called in to investigate a murder when a body is discovered in a lava tube at Pohakuloa, the army’s live-fire training area. In his many years on the force, Koa has seen a lot of horrific sites, but the mutilated body with signs of a ritualistic killing is one of the worst. Koa is determined to find the person capable of such horror while forced to fight against an ineffective ME, hostility from both nativists and westerners, and personal demons born of his own past actions. With grave robbers, thieves, astronomers, and nativists falling into the suspect pool and everyone concerned to the case sharing more lies than truth, Koa needs to use every skill, intuition, and bit of experience to find out who the victim was, why he was murdered, and who is behind the heinous mutilation.

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10


8 out of 10


9 out of 10

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

5 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book #1 in the Koa Kāne series, followed by Off the Grid and Fire and Vengeance.

Highlighted Takeaway:

The depth of information regarding traditional Hawaiian practices and traditions. Like other books in the series, Death of a Messenger stays true to showcasing the various facets, past and present, of the region in which it is set.

What I Liked:

Death of a Messenger is a classic whodunnit. Or, as Captain Holt of Brooklyn Nine-Nine says, a ‘who has done this’. A series of suspects, all of whom have motive, keeps the story moving and the reader, guessing.

What I Didn’t Like:

Maybe it’s because this is the first book in the series, but I noticed that it had a lot of “tell, not show” instead of it being vice versa. There were random mentions of back stories when, instead, the point being overly-repeated could have simply been shown in character development after a couple of mentions. I found the writing style in those segments really strange and off-putting, and think the story could have done a lot better without the excessive repetition. (Much like this paragraph, you may be thinking!)

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who likes mystery, learning about new places (Death of a Messenger does not stray far from reality in setting and history), and suspense will enjoy this Koa Kāne story. In spite of its few shortcomings, it is an interesting read.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone uncomfortable with gore or violence – while not over the top, there is some violence in Death of a Messenger that can be a bit too graphic for those who are uncomfortable with it.

Read It For:

Koa Kāne. The leading character in the series is a relatable, likable, and kind-hearted person, with enough shades of gray to make you want to follow his story.

Want to share something about the Koa Kāne series or my review? Leave a comment below 🙂

Coming up next is a review of The Alienist (the book, not the TV show). Stay tuned to find out if the historical suspense fiction meets expectations. And, as always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this review.




Author and Book Lover

4 thoughts on “A few drawbacks, but an interesting read: A Review of Death of a Messenger by Robert McCaw

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