The Stone Lantern

A Hawaiian Mystery

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
264 Pages
Reviewed on 09/01/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Samantha Lei Stevens was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii and spent much of her childhood living on the ranch and sugar plantation that are the backdrops of The Stone Lantern. She graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University with a degree in journalism and was a feature writer on several Bay Area newspapers. Although Samantha lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for most of her adult life, she taught English to a wide variety of students while living in a jungle village in northern Argentina, a fishing hamlet in China and at the Chisan-Dong Elementary School in Song-tan, Korea. She now resides in Northern California with her husband. The Stone Lantern is her first novel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Dr. Oliva Dsouza for Readers' Favorite

The Stone Lantern by Samantha Stevens is a mystery set in the beautiful landscape of Hawaii with its culture and history woven subtly and expertly into the plot. Jessie Bradford comes down from San Francisco to settle her Uncle Rod's affairs after his passing. Being the sole heir to the inheritance left behind by her Uncle Rod, she has to come back to South Point ranch on Hawaii’s Big Island where she spent a good part of her life. Memories flood back as she meets her childhood friend and sweetheart. Jessie had planned to stay for just a few weeks and sell the ranch before heading back to her regular life in San Francisco. But does life have other plans for her? Two men searching for an ancient burial site have discovered a skeleton which could possibly be Jessie's father's remains, who was supposedly washed away while fishing and never found. Will Jessie uncover the truth about what really happened to her dad? Will Detective John “Mac” McIntire be able to solve this case and give her the closure and fresh start that she needs?

What a beautiful story from start to finish. Jessie is so endearing and faces the dilemmas and life choices that are thrown at her with such aplomb that one wishes that everything turns out right for her. Samantha Stevens has done an extremely good job of weaving a plot that keeps the reader interested and wanting to know what Jessie is going to do next. I really loved the way she tracks down people from the past to reconstruct what could have possibly happened to her father on that fateful day. Read on and enjoy this book. You won't regret it.

Jack Magnus

The Stone Lantern: A Hawaiian Mystery is a murder mystery novel written by Samantha Stevens. Jessie Bradford had returned to the Big Island to claim her Uncle Rod’s inheritance after his abrupt passing. She loved the Bradford Ranch and still remembered how marvelous it was growing up there. Now, however, her life was based in San Francisco where she was a Professor of History. Her plan was to go over the finances of the farm and, most likely, set up an arrangement with a realtor for selling the property. While Bradford Ranch held significant emotional ties for her, especially for the people who worked there and those whom she had grown up with, she was there as a visitor only. Her task quickly became more complicated when a cave was discovered on Reverend Joe Kanekoa’s property by Joe and a university researcher. They had long wondered about the possibility of an ancient burial site on the Big Island’s South Point, and the scene found by them in an out-of-the-way cave contained everything they had dreamed of. There was a ceremonial outrigger canoe resting on lava rocks, tools, bowls and other ancient implements, and human bones and a skull resting on a feathered cape. What they hadn’t expected to find in that burial cave was a vastly more recent skeleton, one whose belt and riding boots pointed to the skeleton being the remains of Jessie’s father, who had been believed drowned and lost at sea over thirty years ago. How did his body end up in the cave? And who was responsible for the blows that fractured his skull and most likely caused his death?

Samantha Stevens’s murder mystery novel, The Stone Lantern: A Hawaiian Mystery, follows Jessie Bradford as she comes home again to the Big Island and has to choose between her career back in San Francisco and the place that was her home. I enjoyed watching as she attempts to solve the puzzle of her father’s appearance in the cave through her interviews with Moon and others who had seen her father shortly before his death. Her interactions with her high school sweetheart, Detective Lieutenant John McIntire, the police officer in charge of the case, are intriguing and also serve to add a bit of romantic suspense to the tale. Stevens weaves a number of red herrings into her story which should keep armchair sleuths happily engaged in considering the possibilities. She also presents a marvelous introduction to Hawaiian history and culture in this compelling mystery, which also touches on the integration of Japanese immigrants into the island population and their treatment during World War II. The Stone Lantern: A Hawaiian Mystery is most highly recommended.

Cheryl E. Rodriguez

Samantha Stevens pens an intriguing island tale in The Stone Lantern. Jessie Bradford returns to the Big Island of Hawaii to settle her uncle’s estate. She is the last surviving member of the Bradford family. Jessie plans to sell the property and the livestock and return to San Francisco as soon as possible. Although the island holds many special childhood memories, her life and home are now on the mainland. However, her plans are delayed when a local minister and a professor of archaeology discover an ancient royal burial site. Inside the cave are the remains of a very old Hawaiian dignitary and Jessie’s father! Everyone had thought her father drowned accidentally forty years ago. But, from the looks of things, what happened was no accident.

The Stone Lantern by Samantha Stevens portrays the bond of family ties. The novel is rich with Hawaiian history, folklore and culture. The heroine is mature, curious and independent, yet slightly vulnerable when it comes to family. She has been tested in matters of the heart, and has come out on the other side. But, life is strangely challenging, it creeps up on her in a way she never would have imagined and changes her from the inside out. Memories, untold secrets, strained friendships and forgotten love shape and mold her character. Stevens masterfully writes her mystery. She weaves her “whodunit” story with the charm and intrigue. The Stone Lantern investigates more than murder; it examines the depths of the heart.