The Motive by Joseph Badal

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MWSA Review

 "The Motive" introduces a new character, Dr. Matthew Curtis an orthopedic surgeon with a background in special forces. His main antagonist is a wily and street smart Hawaiian who manages to keep more than one step ahead of the law.

Matt flies to Hawaii upon learning of the death of his sister, to whom he was very close. He does not believe she committed suicide as the main investigator believes. Meeting his sister's friends and colleagues takes him into various parts of the islands including an important flight to Kauai. When he realizes that his sister's best friend Renee may be in danger, he calls on former special forces comrades who come equipped to defend Matt and Renee, for whom he has a special attraction.

A complicated web of crime in this tropical paradise with some international players creates a fast-moving thriller with many twists in the story. Who can be trusted? Who is in charge? And who does that crime boss own? It's hard to put this book down, and the end leaves you wanting the next book in the series.

MWSA Review by Nancy Kauffman (February 2019)

Author's Synopsis

 The Motive is a 106,300-word thriller novel, and is the first in a 3-book series titled The Curtis Chronicles.

New Mexico physician Matthew Curtis flies to Hawaii to bury his sister, Susan—a reported suicide. Shortly after his arrival there, Matt suspects Susan was murdered. He collaborates with his sister’s best friend, Renee Drummond, in a search for the murderer and his motive. Their search uncovers a criminal conspiracy that involves Lonnie Jackson—the head of organized crime in Hawaii, Nathan Ballard—the senior partner of the law firm where Susan worked, and Dennis Callahan—the homicide detective in charge of the investigation into Susan’s death.

Matt does not want to believe Susan killed herself, but the evidence, at first, seems irrefutable. He is distressed because he believes an argument he recently had with his sister and her boyfriend might have contributed to her being depressed and committing suicide.

Matt meets Renee, who challenges him to search for the truth.

He learns from the coroner that, although Susan died in a fall, she had a lethal level of a narcotic in her system. Matt knows Susan abhorred drugs.

He meets with Dennis Callahan, the Honolulu detective in charge of his sister’s case. Callahan tries to convince him that Susan’s death was a suicide and that he should get on with his life and return to New Mexico. What Matt does not realize is Callahan is a dirty cop, on Lonnie Jackson’s payroll.

Matt learns that one of Susan’s neighbors, Muriel Goldstein, left her apartment moments after Susan’s death. He tracks here down at her daughter’s home on Kauai. She confesses to having seen Susan pushed off her balcony.

Matt’s old Army buddy, Esteban Maldonado, and two of Esteban’s friends, Richie and Angelo Caruso, who live on Oahu, ally with Matt and Renee after three men attempt to ram Matt and Renee’s car over a cliff.

Lonnie Jackson, aware that Susan Curtis, the in-house accountant for Nathan Ballard’s law firm, was suspicious about the imbalance between Ballard’s personal income and his spending, orders Dennis Callahan to murder Susan. Fearful that Susan had shared her suspicions with her friend, Renee Drummond, Jackson orders Callahan to murder Renee after the first attempt on her life fails. Callahan also fails and is severely injured in his attack on Renee. Jackson is frustrated by the two failed assassination attempts and sends heavily armed hitmen after Matt and Renee. Matt, Esteban, and the Caruso brothers repel the attack and capture one of Jackson’s men. The captured hitman incriminates Jackson.   

The police raid Jackson’s homes and businesses. They acquire evidence that Callahan injected Susan Curtis with drugs on Jackson’s orders, in order to prevent her from disclosing Nathan Ballard’s role in Jackson’s drug smuggling operation. But it wasn’t the drug injection that killed Susan. Nora Dunning, the mother of John Dunning, a young attorney at the Ballard law firm, pushed Susan to her death. John Dunning is Lonnie Jackson’s half-brother and Nora Dunning is Jackson’s mother. When the police try to arrest Nora, she leaps to her death from a cliff into the Pacific.

Jackson is about to flee the country when he hears of his mother’s death. He becomes unhinged and goes after Matt and Renee himself. He shoots and severely wounds Renee. Matt fights with Jackson, but Jackson escapes and flees to Brazil with tens of millions of dollars.

An Asian drug dealer, in retaliation for Jackson stealing a heroin shipment from him, murders Jackson’s half-brother, John Dunning.

Matt and Renee fall in love. She follows him back to New Mexico, where they marry.

The deaths of his mother and brother unhinge Jackson. He blames Matt and Renee for the deaths of his mother and brother and vows revenge against them. The second and third books in the series, Obsessed and Justice, continue the conflict between Jackson and Matt and Renee.

Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Mystery/Thriller
Number of Pages: 392