Title: Mai Tais and Murder
Series: Gabe Maxfield Mysteries, Book 1
Author: J.C. Long
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: June 12, 2017
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, mystery, gay, romance, Hawaii
Gabe Maxfield never wanted to be a detective or a policeman or anything of the sort. The closest he wanted to come to the law was writing legal briefs and doing research for a big-shot law firm. Nice and safe, and without all the stress. No unanswered questions, just well-defined legal precedents.
When he moves to Hawaii in the wake of a disastrous breakup and betrayal by an ex, a murder investigation is the last thing he expects to get wrapped up in, but he can’t help himself when a dead body, a hunky cop, and his best friend get involved.
So much for sipping Mai Tais on the beach and admiring the well-tanned bodies around him.
- First off, tell us a bit about your book! What can we expect?
Gladly! Mai Tais and Murder is a cozy-ish mystery that focuses on our amateur sleuth and narrator Gabe Maxfield. He sets out to solve a murder, though he’d rather not, in order to clear the name of his best friend who’s been accused of the murder. You can expect lots of snark, a nice dash of suspense and edge-of-your-seat moments, a sexy Hawaiian cop, some laughs and some steamy moments.
- What inspired/brought about this particular book?
I like mysteries, but I also like setting my books in locales that appeal more to me than a generic city or some of the frequently used settings out there. Hawaii has always appealed to me, plus it gave me an excuse to study the culture and even dive a bit into the language of the place. The mystery unfolded organically for me as I decided on the setting.
- We’d love to hear a bit about your protagonist(s). What inspired him/her/them? Any real life individuals come to mind?
The protagonists in this story are Gabe Maxfield and Maka Kekoa. Gabe is from the mainland, having spent years in the state of Washington, while Maka is a Native Hawaiian who’s lived his whole life on Oahu. They come from very different worlds, Gabe the outsider and Maka his gateway into a new culture and environment (if you haven’t noticed, I enjoy tales of the outsider, having been one so frequently in my life).
- Was there any particular part of this book that was difficult to write? If so, what made it so difficult?
I actually had a fairly smooth time writing this book. I often have trouble with the beginning, but once I get a beginning wrote I can usually chug along at a fairly even pace. This one didn’t choke me up near as much as some of my other projects have.
- How about the part of the story you had the most fun writing?
I love the reveals. I love moments where the curtain falls away, subterfuge and subtext lift, and we see the truth of the matter for what it is. It’s part of why I love mystery so much, and it makes the buildup of it all so worth it.
Mai Tais and Murder
J.C. Long © 2017
All Rights Reserved
The sound of banging drew me from the nap I’d fallen into on the uncomfortable, lumpy couch I’d inherited in my new condo. I looked around, confused until I realized someone was knocking at my front door rather impatiently.
I hurried across the room, threw open the door, and was greeted with the sight of a burly Islander pulling a dolly loaded up with boxes. The movers were there, finally. I glanced at the watch I wore on my wrist. It was nearly noon, so only, oh, two hours late.
“Aloha, we’re with the movers,” the man said unnecessarily.
“I thought you were going to be here by ten,” I said, stepping out of the door and allowing the man to wheel the dolly inside.
“Yo, you got choke boxes, braddah.” It sounded like it was meant to be an explanation, but if it was, I didn’t understand it. I’d been in Hawaii for two weeks, and I had not come close to catching on to the local pidgin. I understood what was being said around me about seventy percent of the time, and then suddenly I had no idea. Perhaps he saw the confusion on my face, because he added, not unkindly, “You got a lot of boxes.”
I nodded my understanding, deciding not to press the issue of the lateness; I’d learned in my brief time living on the island of Oahu that things in Hawaii ran differently, as if time followed different rules there. Things that would be done at a quick pace back in Seattle just happened slower here—the whole aloha, relaxed island attitude to blame, I supposed. It definitely wasn’t a bad thing—in fact, I found the lifestyle here to be worlds better than what I experienced on the mainland. It was just an adjustment. Grace assured me I’d get there eventually, and I was mildly successful already, becoming way more relaxed than I had been in Seattle, but when it came to things like this, I couldn’t help but get a little irate.
Didn’t people in Hawaii want their packages on time, too? At least pizza delivery still ran on time.
I stood back and allowed the man and his companion to wheel in more boxes. They were about halfway through unloading when the second man stopped and pulled the door down on the back of the truck, leaving the rest of my boxes inside.
“Hey, what are you doing? Those are my boxes!”
“Nevah mine, braddah. Try wait, yeah? We come back bumbye. We gone go grind.” The bigger guy came out of the condo behind me, patting my shoulder with a beefy hand.
I ran a hand through my hair. “I’m sorry, I don’t quite understand…”
“He said they’ll come back in a bit. They’re going to get lunch.”
I looked over and saw a tall, dark-skinned Islander, bulging muscles all but ripping out of the tight maroon V-neck T-shirt he was wearing. He was about an inch over six feet, with dazzling white teeth and short-cut, dark hair. His eyes were a surprisingly light shade of hazel that contrasted his skin.
“Oh, uh, yeah, okay. Thanks.” God, I sounded like a stammering idiot.
If the hunk of an Islander noticed, he didn’t say anything. “You’ve been here a few weeks, right? Why are you just getting boxes? Not that I’m stalking you or anything,” he added quickly, eyes widening a bit as he probably processed what he said. Saying you weren’t stalking someone made it sound like you were stalking someone. I hadn’t taken it that way, but when I thought about it, I could see how it could sound stalker-like. “I live in the condo next to yours.” He pointed over my shoulder at the door to his place.
I had my suspicions that he was blushing, but with his face as tan as it was, it was hard to tell. It did look like the skin on the exposed, smooth expanse of his chest and neck had reddened a bit, but was likely just wishful thinking.
That’s when I realized I was staring at his chest. Goddamn it, here I was, a twenty-nine-year-old man acting like a fifteen-year-old. “I’m Gabe Maxfield.” I introduced myself to establish that I was not, in fact a bumbling idiot. “Nice to meet you.”
The guy took my hand and shook it firmly. His touch was surprisingly soft despite the few calluses I could feel, and a warmth spread through me that had nothing to do with the blazing sun. “I’m Maka Kekoa. Hauʻoli kēia hui ʻana o kāua. That’s nice to meet you in Ōlelo Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian language.”
I tried to repeat it, and he smiled at the way I stumbled over the words. “To answer your question,” I said quickly, trying to move past the embarrassment of butchering the language, “I wasn’t in a rush to get everything since this place came mostly furnished. I shipped them from Seattle at the cheapest—and slowest—rate.”
“Oh, you need these guys back here at a certain time?” he asked, gesturing toward the movers, who still hadn’t driven off, much to my surprise. They were standing close together, watching our interaction with quite a bit of interest.
“I’m supposed to meet a friend today at three, so they need to be here and finished before then.”
Maka nodded and walked to the passenger door of the truck, rapping on it with his knuckles. The door opened and some words were exchanged that I didn’t hear—not that I was paying attention. My eyes were too busy traveling over the nice muscles of Maka’s arms and the very pleasing shape of his ass.
This was, I realized, the first inkling of physical attraction toward another man I’d felt since things had gone so bad with Trevor two months before. Since then I’d been living in a bit of a fog on many levels, including my libido. I just didn’t feel the drive—I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d jacked off. Seeing Maka seemed to have poked the bear, so to speak, and I felt myself begin to harden.
I was surprised when the two movers hopped out of their truck, rolled up the back door, and once again started moving boxes. One of them shot a glare at Maka as he went by and muttered something under his breath, but Maka didn’t seem to notice.
“How did you do that?” I demanded when he rejoined me
Maka shrugged, once again flashing those pearly whites. “I have a way with people.”
“Clearly. I need to get you to teach me.”
“Maybe that can be arranged sometime.” Was he flirting with me? Or had I been out of commission so long that I was misreading a simple conversational reply? Why was interacting with a man so complicated? My mind had to go running off in three directions at once, and I didn’t even know if this guy played for my team, so to speak. “It was nice to meet you, Gabe. I’ve got to get going. Tell Pako and his boy that if they have any trouble with anything, they should give me a call, okay?”
“Will do,” I said with an awkward chuckle. “Nice to meet you, Maka.”
“Aloha.” I waved at him as he left. He’d rounded the corner into a second section of the parking lot when I heard sniggering behind me.
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Meet the Author
J.C. Long is an American expat living in Japan, though he’s also lived stints in Seoul, South Korea—no, he’s not an army brat; he’s an English teacher. He is also quite passionate about Welsh corgis and is convinced that anyone who does not like them is evil incarnate. His dramatic streak comes from his life-long involvement in theater. After living in several countries aside from the United States J. C. is convinced that love is love, no matter where you are, and is determined to write stories that demonstrate exactly that. J. C. Long’s favorite things in the world are pictures of corgis, writing and Korean food (not in that order…okay, in that order). J. C. spends his time not writing thinking about writing, coming up with new characters, attending Big Bang concerts and wishing he was writing. The best way to get him to write faster is to motivate him with corgi pictures. Yes, that is a veiled hint.
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