A cleverly crafted story!
Author: Susan M. Toy
Title: Island in the Clouds
The dead body in the pool is putting a serious dent in Geoff’s morning. An expat property manager on the Caribbean island of Bequia, Geoff doesn’t want a spotlight shone on the secret past he left behind in Canada, but now he’s the suspect in a brutal murder. With no help from the inept local police force, he’s drawn into investigating the murder himself, to clear his name. As Geoff finds out more about the circumstances surrounding the killing, and he and his loved ones find themselves in danger, he begins to see a very dark underbelly of the place some people call paradise…
Part travelogue, part mystery, ISLAND IN THE CLOUDS takes a long, hard look at the reality of living in a place that seems perfect-from the outside, anyway.
The greatest part of reading Island in the Clouds, was how much fun I had relating Bequia to my own Caribbean Island experience in Grand Cayman. While the two places are separated by over 2000km’s, it is clear that some things are purely characteristic to the islands, regardless of proximity. Susan Toy did a fantastic job of purveying the culture and feelings experienced by expats all over the Caribbean. She made me fall in love with the island lifestyle all over again; laid back, multi-cultural, miles from ordinary yet so easy to acclimate. There is no doubt that the author ticks all the boxes as far as enticing the reader into this compelling travelogue, she nearly convinced me to move back!
Another thing that Susan Toy did very well was craft an intriguing mystery full of twists and turns as well as a reveal at the end that I most certainly did not see coming. The series of events that drive the plot are unveiled in such a way that the reader literally feels sea sick but also eager to read to the end to discover the culprit behind these heinous events.
The one area that I would have liked to see explored further was character development. All the requisite bits and pieces were there; a reliable narrator, a love interest and a variety of humourous and moral supporting characters, but I felt that I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I would have liked given the often severe circumstances in which they found themselves. This surprised me since I connected so easily with the “character” Toy had created of Bequia.
That aside, Susan Toy is very brave and forthright in Island in the Clouds in the way she handles several sensitive social issues that these small islands are prone to enduring. To discuss the issues here would give away too much of the plot, suffice it to say that her narrative description of the island and the issues involved in the plot twist reveal combine to create an excellent portrayal of island life; both the most beautiful realities and those aspects the islanders would rather remain out of the spotlight.
This is a great novel to check out for those who have always wanted to know what real island life is like, with a bit of mystery thrown in to keep things interesting!!