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by Gillian Royes

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4516-2741-1
Publisher: Atria

A newcomer with the social instincts of a wild animal disturbs the considerable peace of an out-of-the-way Jamaican town.

It’s no wonder that when Eric Keller, who owns the Largo Bay Restaurant and Bar, and his bartender Shadrack Myers first spot Simone Hall perched on Eric’s tiny proprietary island, they mistake her for a goat. Simone, who’s returned to the land of her birth to recover from some traumatic experience she doesn’t want to talk about, doesn’t offer much in the way of human fellowship. Mainly, what she wants is to be left alone, and she’s willing to pay Eric an inflated rent to insure her privacy. Though Simone doesn’t exactly blossom in her solitude, there are distinct signs of renewal. She begins keeping a journal that often erupts into poetry. She accepts Eric’s solicitous visits and even comes to welcome them. But her privacy is exactly what doesn’t ensue. A pair of Shad’s friends soon spot her from their boat; Shad confirms that yes, there’s a woman living there; and the news is soon all over Largo Bay. Among the interested parties are Simone’s worried brother Cameron Carter, who, arriving from the U.S. in search of her, fills in Eric and Shad on what’s driven Simone to take refuge from the world. Equally though differently interested are Tiger Armstrong and his unsmiling friend Sharpie from out of town, who decide to take a few hours off from whatever nefarious errands they’re doing for shadowy American factory owner Milton Manheim and make a trip to the island in search of her.

Despite elements of crime and mystery, Royes’ debut is only fitfully thrilling. It’s best approached as a charmingly low-key account of how it takes a village to heal a careworn soul.