An estranged couple’s dispute over one member’s potentially valuable heirloom turns deadly in Mills’ (Pineland Gold, 2017, etc.) thriller.
In 1910, Jim McKenzie, needing funds for daughter Sarah’s tuberculosis treatment, steals a gold cross from a drunken Cuban captain. Unable to get back to his family in time to help his child, Jim buries the cross on Cayo Costa Island, specifying its location in a letter to his wife, Claire. More than a century later, Lynn Chapman owns that letter, which Jim’s ancestors have passed down. Evidently, a hurricane had covered the burial site for the cross, preventing Claire from retrieving it. That certainly didn’t stop Lynn’s soon-to-be ex-husband, Bobby, from looking. He now feels entitled to some of the cross’s estimated million-dollar value, as his search cost most of his inheritance money. When Bobby subsequently finds a way to clear the area where the cross is located, Lynn fears he’ll get his hands on the antique. So she seeks help from private investigator, former cop, and boat owner Doug Shearer. The two head to the island with hopes of reaching the cross first. Unluckily, Bobby is already there and, armed with a weaponized drone, isn’t willing to give up what he believes is rightfully his. Straightforward characters populate Mills’ tale, the latest in his Pine Island Sound Mystery series. Bobby, for example, is the unmitigated villain, his anger so sharp and frequent that he antagonizes his own divorce lawyer. But backstory for nearly every individual adds interest: Readers learn what Lynn originally saw in Bobby, while Bobby’s pitiful childhood may explain his unsavory present-day behavior. The narrative spotlights supporting characters as well, like Lynn’s genial attorney, Beth Mancini. Recurrent stories from Beth’s lawyer boyfriend, Frank Powers, about one of his cases, though curious (a judge is the defendant in a “sex trial”), generally come across as tangents. The book’s latter half, however, stays on track, as Bobby menaces Lynn and Doug, and Mills amply details their time on the breezy island.
An often diverting story of memorable characters hunting treasure.