In the mood for a mystery? Need a vacation (at least in your mind)? Give Photo Finish by Terry Ambrose a try. Mr. Ambrose takes you on a rowdy adventure set in glorious Oahu where sometimes a pretty girl isn't just a pretty girl, but harmless semi-retired apartment managers fall for them anyway.
We are introduced to McKenna, said apartment manager, living his quiet life hiding from the past and stonewalling the future. Until a pretty new tenant moves in and a body gets thrown from an airplane. Photo Finish is not only a story about unravelling a mystery, but also slowly peels away the layers of McKenna's damaged psyche as he learns to begin to live his life again. He's not your stereotypical hero-slash-protagonist, which is refreshing; his weakness for the ladies and self-doubt is endearing.
The story with all of its twists and turns is quite straightforward without a lot of fluff -- no confusing subplots or flowery language here. The author feeds us little bits of Hawaiian culture and language through realistic and funny dialogue. And despite quite a few subtle hints throughout the book, you don't really know how this story is going to end up or where the characters stand until the end, which, in my opinion, is crucial for a mystery novel but seems to be often overlooked by authors. (I find myself knowing exactly how a book is going to end far too often, to my dismay.) This book reminds me of good, solid, old-fashioned mystery writing from back in the day. While the characters spend a lot of time chasing violence, it doesn't happen "on screen" and constantly slap you in the face, so if that's not your thing then this is the book for you.
All in all, this is a solid debut performance by the author. The writing is mature and polished, the plot solid, and the characters well fleshed out and relatable.