Hi everyone! 🙂 Our upcoming guest on the Crime Cafe podcast is crime writer Robert McCaw. He writes a series of crime novels set in Hawaii. Pretty cool!
Here’s a sample of his latest work, Treachery Times Two. He’s also giving away print copies of the book to two lucky winners. US addresses only, please. Just email me (at firstname.lastname@example.org) your mailing address with “Crime Cafe giveaway” in the subject line by Friday, Feb. 15, to enter the giveaway.
So, without further ado …
Treachery Times Two
by Robert McCaw
Pele, masquerading as a glassy-haired old woman, wandered the lava trails around the massive smoking volcanic caldera called Kīlauea. Over millennia, her temper tantrums had created the Hawaiian Islands, including Kīlauea and the four other volcanoes that make up the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Fiercely jealous of Poli‘ahu, her sister deity, the snow goddess of Mauna Kea, and locked in eternal combat with Kamapua‘a, the demigod of rain, Pele’s exploits fueled the oral history of the islands.
Often called the stone eating woman, she’d resided inside Halema‘uma‘u, the pit crater within Kīlauea’s caldera on the Big Island’s southeastern edge. Inside Halema‘uma‘u, Pele’s red-hot lava often bubbled and smoked. Ancient Hawaiians left flowered leis and other tributes to the fiery goddess while Western haoles gifted bottles of gin. She’d quaked and rumbled over the past millennia, but, whether driven by climate change or sheer perversity, Pele’s sizzling rage had recently spiked to a 200-year high. In ancient times, she’d smothered an army of Hawaiian warriors, changing the course of Hawaiian history, and now she sought to teach present-day mortals renewed respect for her awesome powers.
Over the past month, thousands of earthquakes had rattled Hawai‘i’s Kīlauea caldera and the adjacent tiny village of Volcano, shattering windows, cracking foundations, disrupting utility connections, and spreading concern among its residents. Some with other places to go, had left, but most had lived for years with Kīlauea’s dangers and become inured to Pele’s antics.
The shaking opened fissures in the nearby Hawai‘i Belt Road, forcing motorists to slow to a crawl and, at times, closing the artery altogether. Massive cracks surrounding Halema‘uma‘u and stretching across the remaining caldera floor warned of Pele’s continuing anger and foretold calamities to come both near and far.
At the Jagger Volcano Observatory on the edge of the caldera, its number two volcanologist, stood looking out at the caldera. She was observing the primordial landscape when a monster earthquake rocked the building making it vibrate beneath her feet. Glass shattered. Cracks darted across the concrete floor. Thunderous sounds blasted her ears. She grabbed the edge of a massive worktable for support. The seismometer on her computer screen began bouncing off the chart before her computer suddenly stopped dead. She scanned the scene through the windows, now empty holes devoid of glass, overlooking the caldera and gasped.
Whole sections of the caldera floor had collapsed, plunging into the abyss created by the withdrawal of magma from the chamber beneath the volcano. Clouds of debris rose like thunderheads. In an instant, the Halema‘uma‘u crater doubled in size and depth. The pit that had been a small part of Kīlauea’s five-square mile caldera now threatened to swallow it whole. Before the violent shaking could tear the building apart around her, she ran for her life.
Unbeknownst to anyone near Kīlauea, Pele’s tentacles snaked out from the crater into a small neglected cemetery less than a half-mile away on the outskirts of Volcano village. The ground rolled and heaved, ancient rock walls crumbled, a giant tree crashed to the ground, and headstones toppled. Cracks appeared across the graveyard and expanded first by the foot and then by the yard. Subterranean forces propelled caskets upward. Boards splintered, and caskets broke open. Cadavers lay exposed. In destroying this sacred ground, Pele unearthed a man-made mystery.
On the other side of the Big Island, Hilo Chief Detective Koa Kāne stood in a different cemetery, the one behind the old white clapboard church on the edge of Kapa‘a. He didn’t have to hunt for the gravestone he sought. He’d come often over the years and could have found his way blindfolded. After resolving each murder investigation, he always returned to Anthony Hazzard’s tombstone. Penance for the man he’d killed thirty years earlier and solace for the guilt he’d suffered in the intervening years required it.
Hazzard’s death had been on his mind of late, haunting his nightmares. It was like that for him when an investigation ended. Time buried many mistakes and healed many wounds, but not murder. It was a stain on his soul, one he’d carry to his deathbed.
Putting his hand on Hazzard’s gravestone, Koa bowed his head and thought of the investigation just ended. He’d found justice for fourteen murdered school children and four of their teachers, just as he’d earlier solved the murders of an astronomer and a pair of loners living off the grid. Inadequate recompense for killing Hazzard, those successes did nothing to assuage his guilt. But they still empowered his empathy for murder victims and motivated him to pursue the most challenging cases. He stood for a long moment contemplating his life.
Turning away from the graveyard, the killer turned cop wondered what new crime would next command his attention and define his quest for atonement.
Reprinted from Treachery Times Two with the permission of Oceanview Publishing. Copyright © 2022 by Robert McCaw.
Robert McCaw grew up in a military family, traveling the world. He is graduate of Georgetown University, served as a U.S. Army lieutenant, and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. He was a partner in a major international law firm in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Having lived on the Big Island of Hawaii, McCaw imbues his writing of the Islands with his more than 20-year love affair with this Pacific paradise. Treachery Times Two is the fourth in his Koa Kane Hawaiian Mystery Series, following Death of a Messenger, Off the Grid, and Fire and Vengeance. He now lives in New York City with his wife, Calli.