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Comments for Adrift on St. John
Adrift on St. John: 05/24/14
Adrift on St. John by Rebecca M. Hale is the first in the Mystery in the Islands series. Pen Hoffstra is the manager of a tropical resort on St. John island. She knows first hand that nothing is ever what it seems, even when a water taxi sinks and a young woman goes missing.
I know it sounds like the start of a typical cozy mystery but it isn't. Sure, there's a female protagonist who isn't a detective but will soon find herself in the middle of a mystery. Sure, there's a memorable setting — St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sure there's a mystery — a missing (presumed drowned) young woman. But when put together the pieces add up to something different and more satisfying.
The current day mystery is tied up in three pieces of the island's past. First, there is the death of the Amina slave princess and the legend that has grown up around her. Then there is Pen's own sketchy history. And finally there is a hotel land development project in the works that has divided the island residents.
Now I know about a hill of beans about the U.S. Virgin islands so I can't tell you how well the asides about the island's history jives with reality but the asides were nonetheless interesting. As with How to Wash a Cat, there's a lot of emphasis on the basic history of the island and a set up of characters. But at the edges of the story, there's a hint of the magical realism that plays a greater role in later books in the Cats and Curios series. There are some scenes with the Amina princess that are more than just a person in disguise playing a role. It wouldn't surprise me to see more magical realism creep into later books.
I didn't figure out how all the pieces fit together but I often don't when I'm reading Hale's books. I don't care. They're fun and interesting and delightfully different.