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by H. Terrell Griffin
Oceanview Publishing, December 2008
248 pages
ISBN: 193351521X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

So you're a beach bum who used to be a lawyer. You've got enough money that you never have to work again unless you want to, which you do occasionally just to help some poor slob who can't afford what it takes to fight the big guys. Your ex-wife, a woman you still love, shows up to ask you a favor. Could you say no? Matt Royal can't.

Laura wants him to find her daughter, Peggy. Peggy is over 18, supposed to be going to college, but has gotten in with the wrong crowd and is partying her life away. Still, she calls home every Sunday. She came down to Sarasota on spring break and hasn't checked in for three weeks. Laura is worried, but the police aren't really concerned. So she asks Matt to help. In the grand tradition of John D. MacDonald, Matt agrees.

Peggy was last seen in the company of some friends and an older gentleman. When Matt tracks down the older guy, something doesn't feel right. When Matt goes back to check things out, the older guy has been murdered. Matt checks into other disappearances of kids Peggy's age and finds a pattern. Reverend Simmermon and his traveling show have been in each town where the kids have disappeared. Matt also finds a connection between Simmermon and a very upscale chain of spas, the Heaven Can't Wait Spas.

Once the connection is made between the Reverend, the Spas, and the kids, it's no stretch to see that drugs and organized crime are probably also in the picture. This is when things start getting ugly and/or violent. Matt has some good friends who have jobs that come in quite handy during this little search for Peggy.

BLOOD ISLAND is a well-written thriller with some flaws. The characters are believable, the plot only slightly over the edge of remotely possible (fans of conspiracy theories will enjoy it), and the descriptions of Florida and the Keys are all anyone could ask for. What I found annoying was the data dumps. Most of them are short, just long enough to jerk me out of the story. One or two were quite long; the whole story of Abraham Osceola, for instance, does little or nothing to further the story line but we learn a lot about Seminole history. Another thing that niggled at me: every bar Matt goes into stinks. Not just the usual smoke and beer stuff, but nasty stinks. Can't he find one bar that doesn't reek? Still, BLOOD ISLAND kept my interest, kept me turning the pages. Griffin can write a very readable thriller, and has done so here.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, February 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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