Sunday 22 June 2014

Islands by Sara Stamey

Islands Sara Stamey

'Romantic suspense and adventure: “Welcome to Paradise,” archeologist Susan Dunne hears on arrival at the Caribbean island to research petroglyphs and unravel the mystery of her brother’s drowning. Was John murdered? This sunny tourist paradise conceals shadowy secrets—violent native unrest, a sunken treasure guarded by legendary Jumbies, and a bloodthirsty cult. Susan literally dives into her investigation of the sunken treasure ship where John drowned, and its link to the photo of underwater petroglyphs he’d sent before his death. To find the truth, she must work with her number one suspect—Vic Manden, the salvage expert who was working the site with John. Resisting her attraction to the unpredictable combat vet Manden, Susan is soon in over her head in more ways than one. The only way through the murky intrigue is to dive deeper into the clues in her disturbing psychic visions.'  Source
A ForeWord Book of the Year Finalist

Islands is set in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the year 1980. It centralises around Susan Dunne who travels to the island with two goals in mind, to research petroglyphs and discover the truth behind her brother's 'accidental' drowning. 

It is clear from the author's very detailed descriptive passages that she has a lot of experience with the islands. The author could have written her own thesis with the amount of research that would have been involved in writing this novel. She brings the island alive for the reader with her wealth of knowledge about diving, the local people, the history, culture and superstitions of the region.  

I would have liked a few of the characters to have been more developed. There were a lot of secondary characters to keep track of and I wasn't able to develop any sense of liking or sympathy for any them. Also the motives behind some of the actions of the characters were never fully explained.
The romantic angle wasn't a strong thread in the story and more could have been made of it. 

There is a strong paranormal element involving voodoo, jumbies, fetishes, poisons, psychic visions etc.  Susan's visions and dreams got a bit confusing so I ended up skimming over them. Even though the story was well enough
written, it became fragmented with all the subplots involving the secondary characters and it got a bit tedious in places. I found myself reading whole pages without really taking it in. However, in saying that there were plenty of chapters where there were interesting twists in the plot, lots of action and the final few chapters in particular were un-put-downable.  

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