.This, the author's first novel, introduces the reader to a new detective. Shad is a barman come amateur sleuth trying to keep his community safe. Set in Jamaica, Shad works for American bar owner Eric. The story begins when they spot something on an island owned by Eric. First mistaken for a goat they soon realise a woman has moved in. Simone is a woman looking for solitude after personal tragedy, but she gets in the way of a pair of bumbling gangster wannabes. This puts Shad on the trail of corruption and election rigging
This novel introduces a lovely character in Shad. He's a reformed and born again handbag thief who having done time in the Pen, has made himself a good life with his partner Beth and their four kids. As soon as his attention is drawn to the shadowy goings on surrounding the upcoming elections he begins to ask questions, but momentum gathers when he talks to Simone's brother, who has flown in to try to rescue her and save her sanity. Shad wants the best for his family and community, is respectful of his elders and wants to put his past firmly behind him. There are a great range of characters that reflected the spectrum of people you tend to find in small locations where everyone often knows everyone else's business.
I had been expecting the plot to focus firmly on Shad's investigation and uncovering of wrongdoing, when in fact a large part of the book relates Simone's time in Largo Bay and what has brought her there. There was also some wonderful material that made me want to visit Jamaica, with the beautiful imagery the author conjures, and some interesting parts about the role of the Obeah man in the community. I'd never heard of Obeah before, but understand it now as a form of magic or sorcery, with the Obeah man consulted as well as or instead of people like doctors.
I haven't read a lot of cozy mysteries but to me this book has elements that would fit it into that category, with no graphic content (although a little sex and violence) , and a great community feel and setting. I really enjoyed this book, and I'd very happily read future installments in the series.
Format: E-book, Advance Review Copy, anticipated release date 27th September 2011
My Rating: 4*