Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Caribbean Calling by J. D. Gordon

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Caribbean Calling by J. D. Gordon. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Caribbean Calling by J. D. Gordon

Caribbean Calling by J. D. Gordon
An Eddie Gilbert Mystery

Red Engine Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-9745652-8-8 (0974565288)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9745652-8-6 (9780974565286)
Publication Date: October 2006
List Price: $15.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Chicago-area firefighter Eddie Gilbert is headed back to the Florida Keys and the open seas of the Caribbean. A beautiful woman and an interesting job offer are waiting.

Caribbean Calling plays out amid lush tropical settings and authentic slices of life in the Florida Keys and other areas in the Caribbean. It’s adventure, action and romance unfolding in an area of the world that is a natural breeding ground for dark characters who deal in everything from gun-running to drugs and white slavery. It’s the resurfacing of old enemies who still carry a grudge. It’s hot nights in the South. It’s the Caribbean calling.

Review: Caribbean Calling is the second mystery in this series to feature Eddie Gilbert, a firefighter from the Chicago suburbs, who travels to Tampa on a month-long “interview” for a job with a company whose business is never quite clearly identified.

One of his early assignments is to locate the daughter of a wealthy client. A doctor, she was working with a relief organization on a tiny third-world island nation in the Caribbean when her regular phone calls home suddenly ceased. Eddie hooks up with a partner in Key West and the two of them are off to uncover what happened to the young doctor.

Caribbean Calling is an ambitious effort that fails to deliver on its promise. Gordon has for the most part developed genuinely interesting characters and locales, drafted an intriguing adventure in which they can participate, but then misses the mark entirely when tying it all together. It’s almost as if the author created an intricate outline of a story with detailed descriptions of people, places, and events, and then converted the whole thing into paragraph form and called it a book.

One of the problems for the reader is that there is too much reliance on knowing what happened in the first book of the series, Island Bound, to understanding some of the character motivation in this second book. The pointless preface suggests there may be some interpersonal conflict to be resolved, yet when it happens it’s a disappointment.

Finally, Eddie himself is a bit of a contradiction. Portrayed as a hero and James Bond-type of character, he keeps his ego in check, has a softer and arguably weaker side, and follows far more often than he leads. As the principal character of an action, adventure, mystery series, he comes off as something of a wimp who doesn’t engender the respect of the reader.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing a copy of Caribbean Calling for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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