A Fat Virgin Death|
Romance and Murder in the British Virgin Islands
Llumina Press, 276pp, $15.95
This sunny tale is for all us poor shivering souls who missed the boat-that is, failed to book passage on a Caribbean catamaran charter this past winter. It will certainly amuse you on one level but it will also provide the resolve, as you slog down the muddy path from your northern redoubt, not to make the same mistake next year.
Set, as stated in the subtitle, in the British Virgin Islands on a roomy catamaran, Southern Cross (no doubt a MaineCat), 14 happy-go-lucky (and foresightful) passengers from the cooler latitudes of the world gather for a two week vacation of sailing, snorkeling, sightseeing, shopping, and generally party-ing down. Also on the boat are one just plain nasty character and one mystery woman who slowly emerge from the thickening plot.
Romance flowers, a wedding is planned and a good time is had by almost everybody on the guest list. Meanwhile, the local gendarmes-shrewd and charming characters who could easily stand alone without the froth of the tourist class, chase down the perpetrators of no fewer than three possible murders and potential murders of both townsfolk and boat guests.
The charter experience is presented in minute detail. The author includes boat rules, instructions for the behavior of passengers-right down to the proper use of the heads, sumptuous descriptions of the elaborate meals as well as the perfect bodies of captain and crew and, of course, the sparkling and sun soaked surroundings. We accompany the passengers on their extended shopping excursions, evening repasts and parties. And we're introduced to a bevy of minor characters as the Southern Cross meanders among the routes of other charters boats. (The author has obviously been there and done that, making her much smarter than those of us snuggling up to our fire places or wood stoves, taking solace by reading her book.
The lives of the island folks are less richly presented but are in someway more sympathetic and credible. (The cruise passengers are always racing off somewhere and the locals are "living slow" and methodically, or trickily solving problems which often involve exotic island flora, not to mention a pair of deadly coconuts.
But no fat virgin dies in this romantic mystery. For those not in the know, many of the islands of the "Virgin" chain are said to resemble the body-shapes of voluptuous women rising from the water. That does it; get me a cab to the airport!