A blowfly, a grasshopper leg, and a tiny flower are the unlikely clues that help a zoologist track down a killer in this dazzling island mystery.
Whoever killed nightclub owner and single mother Esmeralda didn’t count on there being any witnesses. But there was one, of sorts: a fly, crawling on Esmeralda’s body as she lay dead on a Canary Islands beach. The fact that the fly wanted to deposit its eggs in the fatal knife laceration reveals a lot about the temperature of the body and its decaying process—information that could help establish a time of death. A katydid leg and a floret tangled in the victim’s hair indicate that the crime took place in a different location. But where, and why? Epiphany Jerome, a Mexican-American woman with a doctorate in zoology and expertise is necrophageous scavengers, aims to help local authorities. She’s vacationing on the island with her Italian-German husband, Mimmo, in a rental owned by the victim’s mother, Constanze Therese; Esmerelda’s 11-year-old granddaughter, Serenella, likes to play with the couple’s dog. Epiphany and Mimmo’s true home is in Berlin, where she works at the Museum of Natural History and he runs a restaurant. The eatery is a favorite of the city’s elite and the preferred restaurant of a redheaded call girl that Epiphany calls “Strawberry Shortcake.” That woman’s Russian Mafia bodyguard, Mikail “the Finger” Petrove, is involved in drug dealing and other gang-related crimes. These characters both surprisingly show up on the island, giving credence to Mimmo’s theory that drugs are at the heart of Esmeralda’s murder. Epiphany and Mimmo’s relationship is rich with conflict as well as passionate, “California firestorm” sex. This smartly written novel’s pacing varies, from methodical autopsies in a morgue to a heart-pounding attack in a deserted canyon restaurant. It also has a palpable international flavor, with its sprinkling of Italian, Spanish, and German dialogue and references to Mexican cultural beliefs. Observations about death, ingrained Catholicism, and female independence add depth to the narrative, and the dialogue also rings true; for example, Esmeralda’s manicurist explains that her late client, a bar-owner, drank too much, but “it’s hard to be in that kind of place all night drinking Fanta.”
A buzz-worthy initial offering in a planned mystery series.