Adrift in a sea of a thousand tiny troubles, Alex Rutledge, Key West’s hunkiest freelance photographer, is looking longingly for a safe harbor as his fourth series entry gets underway. Just south of Cuba lies the Grand Cayman, and he thinks of his seven-day shoot there as healing for both a shattered exchequer and a battered psyche. Unfortunately, obstacles keep looming. First, there’s the call of friendship. Alex’s best buddy, Sam Wheeler, faces a trip to Broward County to identify a dead body that might be his missing sister, and Alex (Bone Island Mambo, 2001, etc.) can’t let him go alone. Next, there’s a proliferation of corpses, most of which seem connected to each other and, dismayingly, to him—like Naomi Douglas, the sweet-natured older woman beloved by Alex for insisting he was more talented than even he believed. She died in her sleep, they tell him, but he can’t help remembering how very robust she’d seemed only days earlier. There are problems with live bodies too, like the opulent chassis of Teresa Barga. With unseemly haste, she appears on the point of vacating the Rutledge bed and board after a mere flash of passion. When Alex, who moonlights as a part-time crime photographer, is tapped to take pictures of a crime scene, he goes reluctantly, knowing that once he gets sucked into sleuthing, he can kiss off the Caymans.
The Key West setting is as always a plus, but the kitchen-sink plotting grows hard to follow or care about.