Lara McClintoch is an antiques dealer from Toronto, who Lyn Hamilton has made as the main character of her archaeological mystery series. The Moai Murders is the ninth tale in the series. It's the first one I've read.
The story is based on Easter Island or Rapa Nui. The author sidesteps the mystery of the Easter Island statues, but does weave the history and culture of Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, into the plot. Lara and her best friend Moira go to the island after Moira, who just won her bout with cancer, decides to go somewhere that she always wanted to go. Lara goes because Moira has asked her.
Upon arrival at their hotel, the women walk into a lobby full of Rapa Nui enthusiasts who are attending a conference. They decide to sign up for the conference to learn more about the maoi. Almost immediately, they are witnesses to the ugly rivalry between the two Rapa Nui experts.
Not one, not two, but three of the conference participants die. The local police declare the first death an accident. Lara does not agree and begins investigating. Her boyfriend is a former forensic expert, so she seeks his advice through e-mail. After the second man, who is one of the Rapa Nui experts, is found dead, the police realize that they must be more skeptical. The third participant hangs himself, but Lara is convinced his suicide is connected to the deaths of the others.
Because the conference participants are from English-speaking countries and the police are Chilean and supposedly can't speak English, the police ask Lara to act as their translator/interpreter. In case you didn't know, Easter Island is part of Chile. People from all over the world visit Easter Island for pleasure, business, and research, so it's interesting that the Spanish-speaking police are not proficient in English.
Lara also gets drawn further into the murder investigation when the other Rapa Nui expert, who is married to a local woman, becomes the primary suspect. Lara helps him escape from the police, which then makes her an okay person among the local people. This is an important detail because later on locals will give her important clues.
Halfway through the book, I lost interest in the story. It's a well-written story. Lots of conflict, red herrings, and such. I just didn't like any of the characters. To help me along, I read the last chapter. I was surprised to learn who the murderer was. That was enough for me to go back and continue reading the story to find out why the murderer had such ill will for his victims.
Okay. That's it for the Cozy Mystery Challenge. It did the trick. I'm back to reading for fun. I've already got my next book to read.