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Photo Finish: A McKenna Mystery (Trouble in Paradise Book 1) by [Ambrose, Terry]
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Photo Finish: A McKenna Mystery (Trouble in Paradise Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Length: 266 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


"Ambrose has created an appealing protagonist for his new mystery series. Ambrose's choice of the beautiful island of Oahu as the book's setting provides yet another assurance that this will be a series well worth following." -- Carol Thomas, Mystery Series Examiner,
"Toss together a bit of Hawaiian voodoo, a con artist on the trail of a big score, and a wiseass hero who can't resist getting involved. Mix with wit. Add a touch of sarcasm and you have Terry Ambrose's "Photo Finish"--a mystery as refreshing as a visit to the islands themselves." -- Deborah Coonts, author of "So Damn Lucky", the latest in the Lucky O'Toole Vegas Adventure Series
"Photo Finish is a Rockford Files meets Hawaii Five-O murder mystery--well-written with humor and heart. Mahalo, Terry Ambrose!"  - Dee DeTarsio, Author of "Haole Wood"

From the Author

The idea for Photo Finish came about years ago while we were vacationing on Kauai. Once I got started on the character, it just seemed natural. Photo Finish went to the back burner for a long time while I worked on other projects, then one day not that long ago, I decided that it was time for McKenna to make his debut. 
In addition to the book, McKenna's also got a blog called The McKenna Chronicles at, in which he talks about life, Hawaiian style, with a twist of grumpy. It's always fun and seldom predictable.

Product Details

  • File Size: 788 KB
  • Print Length: 266 pages
  • Publication Date: July 20, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008NQJD8S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,469 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Terry Ambrose's smooth detective story, Photo Finish, actually begins with a photo taken by a female photographer in a "you aren't allowed to go there" area of Oahu. Well, maybe she's a photographer. We have our doubts early on. But the hero, McKenna, 60-something, a "grumpy landlord," not too self-assured, falls for the story the gorgeous woman spins. Naturally, that leads him deep into danger.

An old guy falling for a young beauty--what's so interesting about that?

For starters, the story is set in Oahu and filled with island sunsets, ocean colors, and trade winds. We are treated to brief historical trivia. And the hero sometimes addresses the reader, explaining local words and phrases so we get a real sense of belonging on the island.

Secondly, Ambrose fashions descriptions that give depth to the storytelling: "Every time her eyelids closed and her facial muscles started to relax, she jerked like a hula-girl doll in the back window of an old Chevy on a bumpy road;" "The air smelled fresh and clear, as though it had taken only a few raindrops to remove the sins of the day."

Thirdly, the hero is a bit naive as the story begins. He is not a cliché, not some hotshot spy or brilliant homicide detective. McKenna's talents are gradually revealed throughout the story until we finally appreciate his ability to piece together clues. We understand his sense of humor and admire his genuine concern for both his best friend and a crabby, hard-of-hearing geezer, Meyer, whose insights help solve the mystery. There is some great dialogue based on the fact that Meyer does not hear words correctly.

Fourthly, except for the suspenseful climax, violence happens off stage.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading Photo Finish and I absolutely fell in love with the strong, well-defined, very humanly portrayed characters. I found myself relating to the places mentioned in the book as I currently live on Oahu. I found myself laughing, being disturbed, mystified, and having "ah-ha" moments as the mystery unraveled. The suspense and action kept you motivated to know what was coming on the next page.

I don't want to give away this novel or the ending so I am going to end this review with this: Photo Finish is a well thought out mystery placed in a beautiful location with characters that will leave you with a sense of having new friends....for life. This story is a must read and I am looking forward to more of Terry Ambrose's future novels!
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Format: Kindle Edition
I was one of this book's early, pre-publication readers, so this is not an objective review, but I have to say that I love PHOTO FINISH. For one thing, Terry Ambrose is a fine writer. For another, the story delivers on its two main pillars of mystery and quick pacing. But it was the hero and setting that made it unforgettable for me. Ambrose depicts Hawaii -- and (via the protagonist McKenna) humanity -- in realistic, warts-and-all fashion. This is the Hawaii that tourists don't see. Much as in the movie THE DESCENDANTS, it's an exotic yet painfully down-to-earth world we find ourselves exploring. And in the hilariously surly but ultimately compassionate McKenna, we have a hero that most commercial fiction eschews: an older, ordinary man in whom we glimpse our present or future selves. Kudos to Terry Ambrose and his debut novel PHOTO FINISH!
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Format: Kindle Edition
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.
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