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Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands) by Rebecca M. Hale
Review by Mel Jacob
Berkley Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425246658
Date: 06 March 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Adrift on St. John does not involve murder or a traditional mystery. The main character is less than honorable and working under an assumed identity. The novel provides a mostly unflattering view of St. John in the Virgin Islands and a local legend about a slave uprising in 1733. The mystery centers on the manipulations of a fat man, a young woman, and efforts to stop potential investors from taking over and building more resorts and expensive homes on land adjoining the national park.

The story follows a number of different characters. Various sections follow the slave princess both in Africa and later on St. John as someone takes on that persona. The main character is the resort manager, a failed estate lawyer on the verge or arrest, when she meets a fat man with a proposal. He provides her with a new identity as Pen Hoffstra and sends her to St. Johns. There, she settles into the expat community and partakes of the tropical life style for four years.

A Bahamian woman handles the actual running of the resort. However, when a young woman with the name of Hannah Sheridan shows up as a new employee, Pen finds herself in trouble. Hannah Sheridan was her original name. The real identity of the young woman and why she has come forms part of the mystery.

Pen finds herself amidst a conspiracy of people with different and sometimes conflicting motives. The island natives have mixed reactions about rumors of foreign companies planning to buy land on or near the national park. Some see opportunity and others see exploitation.

The sightings of a woman considered to be the ghost of the Amina slave princess from 1733 add to the confusion. The slave princess involved with the revolt may have been modeled on a warrior African princess/queen by the same name.

Rebecca Hale's Mystery in the Island series features the history of the various Virgin Islands while her other series, Cats and Curios, focused on California history. The fourth of the Cats series is due later this year. The next Mystery of the Islands, A Foot on St. Croix, will appear in 2013.

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