When I visited Susan Toy‘s website in preparation for my Sunday reblog, I saw that she had published her own first novel, Island in the Clouds: a Bequia Perspectives novel, and I bought a copy (the ebook version) partly because I knew someone who went to live in Bequia for a few years after he retired and partly because I enjoyed reading her blog. Also, I think it’s great that she supports and encourages authors.
This book is a quick read — I read it in one day as I had difficulty deciding who the villain was and had to read to the end to find out. The prologue begins by setting the scene — the beautiful, tiny island of Bequia in the Caribbean. The narrator is Geoffrey, although that is not his real name. He has disappeared from Canada with a new identity after becoming the patsy for his friends and business associates, one of whom owns a property on Bequia which he rents out to tourists. “Geoff” is allowed to live in the boathouse and manage the property along with several other properties belonging to expats who do not stay year-round. He spends his free time (of which he has a lot) with his girlfriend, Angie (a Bequia native but raised in Britain), and other expats from the U.S., Sweden, Australia, Italy and Germany.
The story begins with Geoff running a little late on a Monday morning with a hangover only to find a dead, naked woman floating face-down, a bullet through her heart, in the pool of The Clouds, one of the properties he manages. This proves to be a bad start to a worse week. He begins as a suspect and then progresses to a target along with all those he cares about. He meets with suspicion and hostility, faces pirates and thugs, and finds a second body in the same pool — this time with the throat cut ear to ear! The police seem to be totally inept and disinterested so it’s up to him to try to figure out what’s going on.
The story is fast-paced and introduces the reader to the idyllic island life and the undercurrents that are not always seen but always exist. It is a well-designed mystery with lots of interesting characters. I felt there were one or two details that might have helped solve the first crime if they hadn’t become obscured in the profusion of characters and ineptitude of the police. But I still enjoyed trying to work out the mystery and hope there will be another novel with Geoff and Angie, either in Bequia or in their subsequent travels. * * * *