The third installment of mystery novelist Siciarz’s (Away With the Fishes, 2014, etc.) Island of Oh series, featuring the continuing adventures of the fictional tropical island’s customs and excise officer, Raoul Orlean.
As the story begins, Raoul has forgotten his librarian wife Lila’s birthday. He visits shop owner and bewitching mystic Cora Silverfish for a last-minute piece of jewelry, knowing that her gems have a reputation for being enchanted. He also knows that he’ll get a good deal, now that her shop is set to go out of business. She selects a gemstone for him that comes complete with a spell to ward off the spirits of darkness, and this comes in handy later, when Lila receives only a minor injury from a fall. A faded cricket player, Seafus Hobb, cryptically warns Cora not to close her shop; he blames her for his diminished former sports career and his present job as an oddities-museum curator. A merciless, manipulative local newspaper editor, Bruce Kandele, stirs the pot by saying that Lila’s injury may be the result of some “malicious intent” by Cora, due to some philandering by Raoul. Soon, accusations begin swirling around Lila’s faithfulness as well. Questions also arise about officer Dwight Williams’s clandestine (and possibly illegal) deliveries to businesses from a sketchy curator. Meanwhile, the island’s annual Pineapple Cup soccer tournament approaches. Raoul once again dons his investigative hat and does the spadework to catch guilty parties in action. Is Dwight a courier of criminal contraband? Is someone intercepting packages at Seafus’ museum? Will the intuitive Cora save the day, or is she a co-conspirator? Needless to say, the resolution is swift and justice is served, although readers will find that much of the plot is obvious by the middle portion of the novel. Overall, though, the author is in fine form once again, using the same breezy storytelling and likable, engrossing characters that have made the Island of Oh popular. Siciarz shows Raoul demonstrating some investigative skill and, in typical frenzied fashion, dashing across the island in search of answers with a spontaneously planned sting operation. Even though the mystery this time around is more loosely drawn than in past volumes, fans of the series can rest assured that the island remains in good hands with folks like Raoul Orlean on its side.
Siciarz’s smooth, homespun island mystery series continues to provide satisfying entertainment with plenty of wit and spiritual nuance.