After the death of her beloved Uncle Miles and despite her lover Ian Hamlin’s help, attorney Storm Kayama is struggling to establish her own fledgling law practice. Then her distant cousin Nahoa, who is also a top surfing competitor, sends a new client her way. On the surface, Stephanie Barstow’s case seems to go no deeper than a bitter divorce, but Storm gets the uneasy feeling of being lied to. Soon after, Stephanie’s businessman husband, Marty, makes himself known as one of the organizers of an upcoming lucrative surf competition, the Intrepid.
This has the older islanders up in arms. They fear the commercialization will invoke a vengeful god’s wrath, while the younger denizens are simply irked at having access to their beloved waves restricted by mainland surf organizers. Nahoa is favored to win, but he is found dead not long after being threatened with an ancient Hawaiian weapon. Did Nahoa’s philandering get him killed, or was it something much darker? Anxious to make up for old family trouble, Storm begins investigating - little realizing that, like surfer in “the green room,” she too will be buffeted by waves of greed, superstition and jealousy until left disoriented and in imminent danger of her life.
The murder mystery is easy to guess at despite a liberal sprinkling of red herrings. The ending, while exciting, doesn’t answer all the questions. However, the most dominant aspect of this novel, even beyond that of the tepid murder mystery, is the Hawaiian surfing culture that is such an integral part of the island’s lifestyle. Atkinson waxes lyrical over this death-defying sport, providing detailed descriptions of the intricacies of this ancient practice of riding the waves. This is all interesting, although readers who are not fans of this sport will be tempted to skip quite a number of pages. Frequent usage of local words and dialect adds authenticity but forces readers to keep flipping to the end of the book to consult the glossary, thus jarring the smooth narrative flow.