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Can they put the pieces together before Apelu becomes the next victim? I've read all four books no real spoiler that one's intended as a series conclusion , and while I don't recall the details of the other three specifically, I retain an impression that the first two were strong on plot and setting, while the third was weaker, focusing on Apelu as a character. This one had a suspenseful plot, with a denouement I didn't see coming at all, although I was disappointed that setting seemed to play less of a part as the story went on.

His girlfriend, Avelisa, seemed rather I wasn't real thrilled with the plot angle regarding their baby, especially the graphic details of her conception! Strange thing is that even though the pregnancy and events afterward are covered, it didn't feel as though two years had passed - no jumping around as such. Series recommend for its unique Samoan background, and overall plotting. Phil Gigante's narration is one of those he-was-made-to-read-this fits!

By: John Enright. Narrated by: Phil Gigante. Series: Jungle Beat , Book 4. Length: 8 hrs and 27 mins. There is no quickened This was the first book in this series that I have read. There is no quickened pace, no heightened heart rate, this is a molasses slow plodding tale that leads to a likely conclusion. Along the way, there are an interesting cast of characters, which in my opinion, makes the story readable.

The mystery itself seems an afterthought, there is no drive to really discover the murderer. In fact, the truth is uncovered only through vendettas and a desire to end a career. Some plot lines that seem promising fizzle, others just fade away with no conclusion. I was left wanting so much more from this book.

Again, the characters and the setting are so well drawn out that you are immersed in Samoan culture. Like a beautiful drive through the country only to end at a blank concrete wall.

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Jun 30, Steve rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-on-kindle , first-read , read-in , mystery. I don't know if this is the final book about Apelu and his kin, but if it is, it will be a great wat to end the series. A tale about morality and mortality, the story flows and draws the reader in. Almost perfect. May 26, A Reader's Heaven rated it liked it Shelves: net-galley , contemporary , mystery , action-adventure , thrillers.

Publisher Details | NetGalley

I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Apelu Soifua has seen a lot in his time with the police force, but even he is unsettled by the bodies that have started piling up. This is the fourth novel in the Jungle Beat series.

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Unfortunately, I hadn't read any of the previous three and I think that was to my detriment. I really felt that I had missed something about the backstory of Apelu - so I suggest reading the previous novels first to get a fuller story of the MC. There are two distinct "good" and "bad" points about this book for me: The good: the characters. What a unique cast of characters the author has put together here. Bringing together a group of likeable characters isn't always easy but you just have to feel something for Detective Apelu and all those characters he comes into contact with while trying to solve the seemingly unconnected spate of murders.

The bad: the story. This was a case, for me, of "nothing happens. I didn't feel compelled to discover the connection between the murders, nor did I feel any real sense of urgency as Apelu comes closer to becoming the next victim. Even the ending seemed a bit lackadaisical - the resolution seemed to almost happen by accident Overall, a tough novel to get through, but thankfully saved by the brilliant characters that inhabit the islands of American Samoa where this book is set. Paul ARH Three years ago, I read the first book in the series, Pago Pago Tango, , because I had spent three weeks in Samoa on a business trip many years ago.

There are really two Samoas. American Samoa is an American territory. They are only 40 miles apart. Surprisingly, Pago Pago has a somewhat different feel from Apia, in independent Samoa. It is fun to have even a small familiarity with the exotic setting of a mystery novel.


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While I liked the first book in the series, it was not fascinating enough to make me look for the rest of the series. When this one came up for review, it seemed a good time to see how the series had matured. The book has the same general feel as the first one, but the storytelling has improved. I should also note that you need not read the preceding books in the series to enjoy this one. The story starts when a couple of kids report finding a freshly dug empty grave deep in the jungle. It proceeds through a sequence of deaths that the police write off as suicides or arising from natural causes.

Only Apelu suspects that there is something deeper than meets the eye going on. Because these are not official investigations, Apelu pursues them in odd moments of spare time. When I left Apelu at the end of book one, he was married with kids. We find him in this book living with a younger Samoan woman while his undivorced wife and children have returned home to independent Samoa. His girlfriend has a baby during the course of the story. As the story develops, Apelu consults with Laura, a palangi white, off-islander lady medical examiner. Together, they notice unexplained or ignored aspects of the deaths.

They send samples to California for HIV testing, but no results ever come back. As Apelu and Laura become friendly, Laura meets his girlfriend. They become fast friends; eventually Laura spends more time with the girlfriend than with Apelu, who seems to become an unnecessary third wheel in his own home. During the investigation of the first two deaths, I noticed that the pace of the investigation of these cases is spot-on for the way things occur in Samoa. There is no urgent press to find out what happened. Apelu remains aware and waits for developments to develop.

He knows the necessary information and connections will reveal themselves in good time. One good technique he uses is to stop in at the bar and idly wonder about things for an hour every day or two. After fifty pages or so, I found myself fully immersed in the pace and cultural ambiance of life in American Samoa.

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I then had a firm grasp of what it feels like to have as much of an understanding of local Samoan affairs as any palangi can, given our own cultural biases. It felt quite similar to the feelings I had during my visit there so long ago. Occasionally, a few uneventful months pass between chapters. The final events take place a full two years after the opening scenes. During that time, the connections between the many deaths emerge as things become increasingly dreary in Apelu's life.

I won't tell you anything that would spoil the surprises, but you can expect life for Apelu to become thoroughly unpleasant.

Pago Pago Tango

In fact, by the end of the story, Apelu has decided to quit the police force and spend his time farming on his "plantation," a few acres of overgrown slopes well into the jungle. The way the book ends, it is likely to be the last of series. I would rather have the series continue, but it would take quite a turnaround in Apelu's attitude and situation. One option for continuing the series would be to let the young police officer who has been mentored and helped by Apelu take over the series. It would be fun to observe Ropeti as he learns police work and matures. I'm not sure I could take much more of the dreariness that overtook Apelu.

The strengths of this book include an accurate portrayal of Samoan life as it appears to a palangi; strong, interesting characters; an intricate if slowly developing plot; and several outstanding descriptive passages. I also enjoyed a throwaway line on page "Absence makes the mind go ponder. I fully realize that these items are my personal quirks rather than the way many people feel, but I mention them for the few people who may share my outlook. I have a hard time identifying with point of view characters who do not have rigorous integrity. Apelu, a police officer, smokes marijuana and lets occasional people get away with things that he shouldn't.

He lives with a girlfriend while still married and has a child with her, yet he doesn't seem to really care much about her.

The Dead Don't Dance

I also do not enjoy stories where the main character suffers unfair blows that plunge him into despair without there being a recovery by the end of the book. If I want that sort of thing, I'll go read literature, not mystery novels. Again, these would not be universal points of bother; many will rightly scoff at such a silly, old-fashioned attitude.

If you have any desire to learn about Samoa and can enjoy a leisurely pace in solving the mystery, you have an excellent chance to enjoy this book. Nov 15, Cathy Cole rated it really liked it.

Paperback Editions

There is an "end of series" feeling to Blood Jungle Ballet that I hope is only in my imagination. I really look forward to John Enright's Jungle Beat mysteries, not only for the stories he tells, but for his poetic descriptions of the natural world of Samoa and his insight into its rich culture. It takes some time for the clues and evidence to begin to come together, partly because higher-ups have decided that none of the murders need to be investigated.

Apelu has to take care of other cases and There is an "end of series" feeling to Blood Jungle Ballet that I hope is only in my imagination. Apelu has to take care of other cases and not look as though he's working on something his bosses have told him to stay away from. When he's not on the job, he spends time reflecting on his life and what he really wants from it. Even though he grew up in California and first became a policeman there, Apelu has always worn Western culture very uneasily.

In his heart and his mind, he's Samoan, and the more he thinks about it, the more he believes he wants to return fully to the culture and traditions of his people. There are three new characters in this book whom I enjoyed. The new woman in Apelu's life and the new medical examiner represent two sides of Samoa: the native Samoan who can be a free spirit yet very much a part of her culture, and the outsider, who would love to know more about Samoa's traditions and history yet feels almost shunned by its natives.

Ropeti the young Samoan police officer is a quick learner with a sense of humor whom Apelu seems to be training as a replacement. If the series focus should shift to Ropeti, I could be very happy with that-- as along as Apelu remains in the picture as his mentor. Blood Jungle Ballet is a very rich and textured mystery-- and can easily be read out of series order-- but it wasn't quite as satisfying as the other books in the series for me. Two of which made my Best Reads of the Year lists. Very early on when Apelu had a conversation with an island resident, a chill ran down my spine.

One of those chills that tell me I just encountered the guilty party. At that point, one part of my brain demanded to rush ahead to discover if all my deductions were correct. I didn't pay attention and forcibly kept this brain of mine on island time because I savor the time I spend with Apelu Soifua-- even when I wonder why it took him so long to solve this particular crime. Blood Jungle Ballet and all the rest of John Enright's Jungle Beat mysteries are perfect blends of setting, character and story.

They're just the thing for anyone who loves traveling the world solving crime from his comfy armchair. Dec 02, Cathleen rated it liked it. To be honest this is the first book I have read by this author. The author was unknown to me at the time I requested and received an ARC. If I had known "Blood Jungle Ballet" is part of a series I would have delayed reading this title until after I had read other books from series.


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  • The reason I say this is solely because of this author's writing style is so different from what I am use to. John Enright seems to have a very slow, somewhat lazy way of telling a story. I had a hard time staying interested because the story flow was so slow and found my attention wandering. The plot and storytelling remhinds of the feeling I have when I sit on a grassy knoll on a hot summer day watching the slow moving waters. What kept me interested in continuing to read "Blood Jungle Ballet" are the interesting characters the author introduced into the story.

    In finishing, I felt that there was a lack of a true plot and follow through in solving the mystery, seemed the discovery of the culprit was completely accidental. The writer has a wonderful way of creating and describing characters and Samoa which is what I found most enjoyable with "Blood Jungle Ballet" View all 3 comments. I've read the first one in the series and always thought that I would end up reading another one, as I enjoyed the description of Samoan culture from the point of view of a policeman who also has some familiarity with American West Coast culture.

    This is the fourth in the series and it has an end-of-series feel to it, as Apelu prepares for retirement on his plantation by the end. What I really enjoyed about this book is that it runs on Samoan time - the whole investigation takes place over 2 ye I've read the first one in the series and always thought that I would end up reading another one, as I enjoyed the description of Samoan culture from the point of view of a policeman who also has some familiarity with American West Coast culture. What I really enjoyed about this book is that it runs on Samoan time - the whole investigation takes place over 2 years, which is far more realistic for a serial killer pattern to emerge.

    Although the idea of a serial killer on such a small island is a bit preposterous. The characters and the interactions are very well written, although the plot did feel a bit predictable. There was a LOT of foreshadowing, to the point where I did at times feel like shouting: 'Get on with the actual thing already! And it feels much more serious, elegiac almost, as external events the war in Iraq, Christian missionaries affect island life.

    A mourning for lost paradise - while still acknowledging that the paradise was illusory. First and foremost, this is a fourth book in a series but can be read without reading the first three. I'd still recommend starting with the first however. There are good points and not so good points with this book. The characters seem fairly well fleshed out and unique in their own rights. The writing is ok although a few times it feels as though a thesaurus was used to find a different word instead of letting the flow just happen.

    The plot overall is intriguing but the smaller plot threads we First and foremost, this is a fourth book in a series but can be read without reading the first three.