Psychological suspense in Belize
A really satisfying read mixing tragedy, psychological suspense and exotic charm.
The reader is carried forward effortlessly by the writer's serene style.
"You better Belize it !" as they say in that part of the world.
This is the kind of the book that draws you in like a spider'web and before you know it, you are trapped in Tristan's world trying to make sense of a whole lot of dark secrets that leave you mesmerized.
I did enjoy reading it, perhaps, the fact that this was done indoors as it was raining heavily outside. Nonetheless, this book will thrill you and maybe just get you wondering how obsessed someone can be and how thin a line there is between love and death.
by Dora Archie Okeyo
I love how each section of the book focuses on a different viewpoint. Good, strong characters who have to face one complication / disaster after another and work through them. Ending was perfect for me.
by Denise Cross
A thoroughly interesting novel set in the southern part of Belize in Central America. A famous crime writer has bought up land in the secluded jungle, close to the small community of San Antonio. Not a lot is known of the novelist and his younger partner as they keep themselves very much to themselves. They own a lodge and the land which used to serve as a Butterfly farm. Now, and seemingly quite antisocial they want to live alone with little interaction with the local inhabitants or the wider world. As the novel develops the partner Hedda is seen as the recluse and it is Tristan Griffin who has bowed to her wishes.
The counterpoint to this couple is Altamont Stanbury a bumbling,but by the book police officer, whose career has stalled and he is spending his last years before retirement in this crime averse village. He spends most of his days reading crime fiction and dreaming of his detective skills in such stories.
Life throws Griffin and Stanbury together when it is reported that the writer lies dead up on his ranch.
With little experience and ill equipped from a medical standpoint he seeks the local woman who cleans for the couple to take him to the property. He is accompanied by his youngest daughter Philomena who is training to be a nurse and the designated medical volunteer in the area to assist in such matters.
What transpires is a classic scenario of a group of strangers trapped in a closed setting; unable to get immediate assistance and forced to work of the cuff and make do in trying circumstances.
Philomena is much brighter than her father and her training goes a long way to save Griffin’s life. The mystery is further compounded by the fact Hedda is missing. A radio call for next of kin produces a mercy dash across the sea from Norway of Hedda’s twin sister who we quickly find is like chalk to Hedda’s cheese.
The tension mounts as no professional doctor can attend and ultimately they are all fighting for their lives when a hurricane is declared to be heading their way.
This would make a great play. The characters are well drawn and Stanbury is so irritating that you wonder who will want to kill him first. However he discharges his duty with great purpose and efficiency. He lacks interpersonal skills and cannot see Griffin, who it increasingly seems likely had a hand in Hedda’s disappearance as anything other than a noble figure.
Although the drama takes place in a confined property the novel goes off with several back stories which add colour and substance to the players stranded together.
I thoroughly enjoyed what I believe was a debut novel by this author and found it a unique twist on a dramatic set of ‘strangers’ coming to terms with their situation and isolation and never really understanding everyone’s motives or behaviour.
There are surprises throughout and it is a great book to read and loose yourself in.
by Richard Latham (via NetGalley)
RK Salters was born in Paris to an Irish émigré father and French mother. He is himself an exile, currently living in Lithuania, where he earlier met his future wife while exploring the collapsing Soviet Union. He is a passionate traveller and an expedition in Belizean jungles provided the setting for Butterfly Ranch, his first novel.