When retired Southern sheriff-turned-New York City detective John Le Brun and his wife, Lordis, set sail in 1910 for a long-awaited honeymoon on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, they expect to find relaxation in paradise. However, they soon discover they’ve been lured to the island in part to tout its attributes as a burgeoning vacation retreat to wealthy investors back home. Instead of finding tranquility among the tropical isle’s quaint villages and sandy beaches, they encounter a land teeming with racial, social, and economic tension. The brutal murders of a local plantation owner’s family find John putting his renowned detective skills to use, with Lordis readily playing assistant.
Once again, the shrewd detective must capitalize on his “outsider” status to stay several steps ahead of the locals, many of whom seem to harbor dark motives. Is the culprit one of the white landowners the exclusive St. Lucia Island Club counts among its membership; the descendants of former African slaves said to inhabit the island’s inland jungles; or someone else entirely? As the body count rises, John and Lordis race to uncover St. Lucia’s deepest mysteries, including secret identities, long-held rivalries, and who stands to profit most from the island’s future. The St. Lucia Island Club paints a vivid portrait of the Caribbean island’s scenic beauty and complicated history at the turn of the twentieth century.
Set in 1910, Monahan's thoroughly enjoyable fifth John Le Brun novel (after 2015's The St. Simon's Island Club) takes the erudite private detective and his brilliant and resourceful wife, Lordis, from Manhattan to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia for a belated honeymoon. Although St. Lucia is billed as an unspoiled paradise, it doesn't take long for the couple to observe an undercurrent of tension on the island, where workers are treated as virtual slaves and a strict racial caste system is in place. When a mansion on one of the plantations is consumed by flames, killing all inside, John investigates. Surrounded by strangers, he can only trust Lordis. Together they uncover unsavory elements from the past and a desperate scheme to change the island's fortunes. Monahan does a fine job evoking the period, when the clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages can still be heard amid the din of the newfangled automobiles. This is a mystery you read for the ambience, not for any rapid-fire action.