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ISLANDS by Sara Stamey – a contemporary thriller that combines the lure of the Caribbean with gritty reality
When anthropologist Susan Dunne goes to a Caribbean island to investigate a mysterious stone carving, she finds that it is not only the ancient past that haunts her, but a ghost from her closest family.
Susan is drawn to the islands by a crumpled letter from her murdered brother, who before his death made a find that could lead her to academic fame. If she can locate his discovery, she may be able to prove that a petro-glyph hundreds of years old is of African origin, predating the incursion of Columbus to the Caribbean. The combination of her professional dreams and the nightmare of John’s violent killing quickly pull her into the bloody heart of the region’s notorious voodoo cult. Seeking an old, wise professor, Phillip Holte, who may know where to find the petro-glyphs, she is aided and at times thwarted by John’s grieving girlfriend Laura, and by John’s worst enemy, possibly his killer, Victor Manden.
With Vic dogging her tracks and Laura watching from the sidelines, Susan, perilously naïve concerning the secrets of the island people, believes she is close to her goal when she finds and is befriended by Phillip. But she continually ignores the warnings of those who know better than she the danger she’s in. Almost too late she realizes that someone she has trusted is a force for savagery and suffering, pulling her into a morass of occult horror beyond her worst imagining. Before her island visit is over, Susan will have to confront the most primitive aspects of her own nature.
Author Sara Stamey has lived some of what she has created in the fictional Islands: she is a world traveler, who, like Susan and her Caribbean companions, is an avid scuba diver. Stamey knows the region, colorfully painting the searing sunlight, the sparkling clear underwater world viewed by divers seeking buried treasure, the ubiquitous sweet and sometimes doctored rum drinks, and the tight, tense lines drawn between island “natives” (actually former slaves) and the “continentals,” the name given to the minority whites, former plantation masters now trying to cynically exploit their properties as a glitzy tourist trap.
Mystical, romantic, intellectually and viscerally stimulating, Islands deftly depicts a woman’s encounter with deadly lies and the chance for true and lasting love.