The Tongue Merchant
Five Star, Jan 2008, $25.95
In the Caribbean the US Coast Guard cutter the Sentinel is boarding a drifting yacht, Lady Lynn Rob. The Coast Guard Executive officer on board Lieutenant Marcella Paraizo knows the vessel is owned by her friend heiress Isabella “Bella” Murillo. She prays her pal is not on board, but her payers are not answered as someone viciously murdered her friend. The Coast Guard takes the Lady Lynn Rob to nearby Hozumkur on St. Nore.
After learning from the lead police investigator Sergeant Kyle Straker that the killer cut out the deaf Bella’s tongue, Marcella is unable to remain on the sidelines. She begins to investigate alienating the cops, the Coast Guard and murderous thugs as she island hops the West Indies following nefarious clues that keep pointing towards either Bella’s spouse, her brother, or the trustees running her late father’s corporation De Casals International. Although avarice goes a long way as a motive it is the tongue that disturbs Marcella who thinks the killer is someone else perhaps the violent environmental group Earth Liberation Front, better known as ELF.
Although one wonders why an amateur in most cases including this one feels compulsive obsessive behavior to sleuth, fans will appreciate this Caribbean adventure. Marcella is a terrific protagonist as she must know what happened to Bella in spite of risking her life and career and that of Kyle, who allows her to get away with too much; this reviewer agrees with Kyle’s partner that she should be arrested, but then we would have no story line. Her efforts hopping from island to island make for a fun thriller filled with two wonderful late twists that will leave the audience fully entertained by this enjoyable amateur sleuth tale.