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‘Fire’ an engaging ride through modern Oahu

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    Douglas Corleone's new book, "Night on Fire," is out now. The novel is set on present-day Oahu.

Promiscuous, hard-drinking defense attorney Kevin Corvelli survives a mysterious fire in a luxury hotel somewhere in Ko Olina and agrees to defend the person charged with the crime on terms that could bankrupt his law practice.

Welcome to Douglas Corleone’s second look at the seedy side of life, lawyering and untimely death on Oahu in the 21st century. The contemporary legal thriller is a page-turner in the best sense of the word — if Corleone and his coarse yet vulnerable protagonist get you past the first chapter, you’re in for the duration.

The story zips along as Corvelli attempts to save his practice, defend his emotionally scarred client, placate his hard-pressed partner and provide a semblance of fatherly support for an orphaned young survivor of the fire. Some of the fortuitous discoveries are of the "only in crime fiction" variety, but there are some good red herrings in play as well.

We learn that Corvelli blew a big case in New York and fled to Hawaii to put his life back together. He’s living hard and fast, and apparently has plenty of money to spend on alcohol, a swanky residence, $100 tips for his favorite bartender, brand-name duds and an ostentatious "electric orange" Jeep Wrangler.

Corleone has a knack for salting Corvelli’s first-person narrative with enough references to local products and landmarks to show that he lives here while carefully avoiding the potential legal liabilities. For instance, the fire takes place at the fictional Kupulupulu Beach Resort rather than any of the real Ko Olina area hotels.

Hawaii residents will applaud Corleone’s skill at providing a sense of pidgin pronunciation without resorting to improvised phonetics or labored academic-style "Hawaii Creole English."

The obvious editorial glitches are minimal. I’ve never thought of the Honolulu Airport being "in Aiea," and how often are homicides here committed with switchblades?

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