First Line: Two children-- a girl of seven and boy just turned four-- played in a gravel courtyard outside the Comanche Hotel in downtown Christiansted.
Charlie Baker's life fell apart on St. Croix ten years ago, and he never thought he'd be back. For most visitors, St. Croix is a paradise. For Charlie, it's a trap. Once again his ex-wife has lured him with promises of a reunion with his children. Although she's broken her word several times before, Charlie is determined-- no matter what-- to make sure that doesn't happen this time. But there's a mysterious figure lurking in the shadows. Could it be the legend of the Goat Foot Woman... or does Charlie have some other dark fate in store for him?
Rebecca M. Hale's Afoot on St. Croix is even better than the first book in the series, Adrift on St. John. Who can beat the setting? Beautiful islands in the Caribbean... sea, sand, sky, lush tropical foliage. That alone is worth the price of admission, but to the setting Hale adds bits of island history and legend, and a cast of quirky characters who aren't always what they seem.
Afoot on St. Croix is the best sort of puzzle to work because of that cast of characters. Charlie's daughter Jessie loves to terrorize her younger brother with stories about the Goat Foot Woman, but the more you read the more you wonder if those are all just stories. All stories have some foundation in truth... don't they? Charlie's wife Mira, an Italian opera singer and his two dachshunds, the old woman Gedda and her shopping cart; most of these characters start out looking a bit like caricatures, but Hale certainly doesn't let them stay that way. I found it fascinating to discover how all the pieces of this puzzle fit together, and am looking forward to my next trip back to the Caribbean.
Afoot on St. Croix by Rebecca M. Hale
Berkley Prime Crime © 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Cozy Mystery, #2 Mystery in the Islands
Source: Paperback Swap