"On the Take in Waikiki" By Terry Ambrose: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a $5 Amazon gift card, and a link to purchase the book.

Wilson McKenna has been Terry Ambrose’s protagonist since 2012 with the release of Photo Finish, and over the subsequent eight years, readers have been entertained with ten Trouble in Paradise books. Referred to as “McKenna” by everyone including his fiancée, Benni Kapono, he is just your run-of-the-mill retiree living in paradise and managing the Sunsetter Apartments on the island of O’hua. His laid-back lifestyle is in stark contrast to his life in L.A. as a skip tracer, but circumstances caused him to leave and relocate to the land of palm trees and trade winds. There he got to know Chance Logan whose Magnum fetish, including the red Ferrari, exacerbated his overly eager desire to be a private investigator, and as a sidekick, entangled McKenna when missing persons, dead bodies, and other felonies blew in, of course, causing more “trouble” in paradise.

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On the Take in Waikiki earns 5/5 Elephants in the Room...Engaging Fun!

Regrets. Some are easy to accept, maybe even remedy, but others, especially when piled on top of each other, are hard to digest. Big regret? McKenna feigning interest in genealogy, when in reality, he didn’t want to delve into his familial roots. He knows some of the “unknown” of his family, there’s a letter, and regrets the secrets kept by his parents, but what else would research and other DNA markers uncover? Isn’t it a kin to sleeping dogs? He should have thought of that before his lackadaisical attitude and falling asleep in the middle of a genealogy presentation was viewed as disrespectful by his fiancée. Benni’s client, Sue Ito, daughter of a high-powered developer and philanthropist on the island Kenji Ito, is excited about sharing her insights into researching one’s family. However, her excitement turns to panic when her father, who promised to attend, is MIA. Chance, who’s working on his official P.I. license, over blows the idea of a mystery, and without checking first, offers his and McKenna’s assistance. Just what McKenna needs. The wedding is in a week, his past has entered his present, and getting engaged in another case complicates it all. But, helping Benni’s friend find her father might be a way to get back into his fiancée’s good graces. But, what will he do when it’s a dead body he finds instead?

Alooooha! Terry Ambrose made me a fan with his Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery (KRL review of book four HERE), so I was eager to finally check out his Trouble in Paradise series. Written from McKenna’s perspective, sharing his sense of humor, inner thoughts, and “troubles,” readers are placed right in the middle of the drama that includes a complex murder investigation, wedding planning, and managing an apartments. The drama is quite compelling with a missing person search turned murder investigation and exposing the victim’s true nature with revelations of possible bribes, pay offs, and gangs. Karma? Meet Mr. Ito...

Ambrose’s writing style of sensory-laden description clearly paints the tropical setting and varied characters for readers to enjoy, but it’s the dialogue, inner thoughts and outer banter, that makes this a “can’t put down” favorite. I’ve usually read stories from female authors with female leads, so Ambrose and McKenna were a delightful change of pace. McKenna is retirement age, so I identify, and I’ve always wanted to live in Hawaii, so again, I identify [insert a sigh of jealousy], and his interactions with other characters run the gamut from lover to partner to father-figure providing lots of entertainment.

As a newbie starting with the tenth book, I knew I would be at a disadvantage with gaps in my experience with the series, and although it did not ultimately effect my enjoyment, there were several confusing references (you know, like arriving late to a movie) and a lack of revisiting background and character connections. I realize regular readers know all the nuances, but a phrase here and there or a character guide would have gone a long way to bring me up to speed. Of course, it makes reading the other books a “must do.” Great Read. Engaging. Complex. I really recommend this book!

Just as Tasty! No recipes or bonus treats in the book, however, Terry Ambrose has an alphabet of easy-to-follow gluten-free recipes, a nod to McKenna’s need to watch his diet. Check this out: Terry Ambrose—Gluten-free Recipes.

Be a Big Terry Ambrose Fan!

Terry Ambrose, one-time skip tracer and bill collector, has cleverly tried his hand at writing. With lots of plot twists and surprising characters, he likes to call them “Mysteries with Character.” There is the ten-book Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mysteries, the three-book License to Lie thriller series, and this four-book Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series. From a retired skip tracer who manages an apartment complex in Hawaii to a con artist to a California coastal B&B owner’s troubles, there is something for every interest.

Facebook—Terry Ambrose Suspense Writer

Website—Terry Ambrose Sign up for the newsletter.

Twitter: @terryawriterguy

To enter to win a $5 Amazon gift card, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "waikiki,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 19, 2020. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new Christmas episode went up this week and another one goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Thank you for the lovely review, Kathleen and KRL!

  2. Enjoyed the post, sounds good! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  3. Thanks for the review. Will be looking for this one.

  4. Sounds like a great book. Looking forward to reading the book.

  5. Sounds like a fun read. I love visiting O'ahu and will have to armchair travel to Waikiki via this book.

  6. Haven't read any of Terry's books. this
    sounds like a good read. thanks.

  7. A sunny clime book in the dead of winter would make for a great read.

  8. A sunny clime book in the dead of winter would make for a great read.

  9. Reading a mystery based in sunny paradise while in the dead of winter would be great!

  10. This looks like a fun read to escape the dreary wintery weather!

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com


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