Monkey Love and Murder
by Edith McClintock
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432826383
Date: 16 January 2013
Edith McClintock uses an unfamiliar setting, Suriname, South America, as the setting for her debut mystery, Monkey Love and Murder. When Emma Parkes, a Peace Corp volunteer, prepares to return home at the end of her assignment, she meets Dr. Alice Buchanan, a monkey expert. Always in need of help, Alice enlists Emma for six months to work in Kasima National Park. Emma has no idea she will encounter murder and even become the leading suspect.
The recent loss of a close friend has left her dreading her return home. The monkey project sounds like the ideal way to be useful and to avoid her guilt over her friend's death. While Emma knows nothing about monkeys, she is willing and observant.
The five team members are mixed. The man in charge, Nick, an Australian, is attractive -- too attractive for Emma. The two women, Rosie and Diane, have been with the project for some time working with Alice on various projects. Red-haired Rosie is man-crazy. Diane, despite field conditions, is stylish with never a hair out of place. Melvijn, a mixed race Suriname native, helps gather data.
Soon after Emma arrives, she learns a conservation group is taking over management of the reserve. The man heading the effort orders Alice and her team to leave. Having invested years in her project, Alice refuses and sets in motion actions to prevent that.
Jack hosts a big party to celebrate his take over of Kasima. Everyone joins in the party and drinks far too much. Jack makes a pass at Emma, which she rejects. Later, Emma hears Diane complaining about Jack.
After going off for a late night swim with Nick, Emma hears suspicious sounds. When she investigates, she sees a figure struggling in the river. She jumps to the rescue. In dark rushing water, she eventually encounters a body and tries to bring it to shore. Unfortunately, she loses her grip, and the river takes the man, but not before she realizes someone has slit his throat.
With Emma's information and their inability to find Jack, the team assumes he's dead and contacts the police. Suspicion falls on Emma because the partygoers remember seeing her with him. However, others had reasons to dislike Jack including Alice, Diane, Nick, the regional director of the organization assuming control of Kasima, and several Surinamese.
With an interesting setting and a variety of characters, McClintock provides enough action and red herrings to hold the readerís interest. Astute readers will identify the murderer well before the end, but most may not.