Nominated for the Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel.
PI Truman Smith has become a loner after failing to find his sister Jan during a recent search of Galveston Island. He jogs on the Seawall, plays with his cat, and reads lots of Faulkner books. He is pulled from his self-imposed retirement when his old high-school football buddy Dino asks him to find a young girl named Sharon. As Tru begins his investigation, dead bodies begin to appear and Tru himself is attacked. His search for Sharon takes him to all sorts of interesting places on and near the Island.
Bill Crider spins a good mystery tale in a wonderful setting with interesting characters and enough plot twists to keep listeners guessing until the last few chapters.
Dead on the Island is the first in the late Bill Crider's Truman Smith PI series and if the other four books in the series are half as good as this one, I'll be in for a treat.
A missing girl, a reluctant investigation, old friendships, history, regrets, a personal loss with unanswered questions, a beating, death, a new woman, possible romance, uncovered secrets, a ransom, manipulation, resentment, a stakeout, danger, more death, finally some answers and a resolution, but not to the question that troubles Truman Smith the most.
I really liked this one. The plot itself isn't amazing, a bit straightforward and the culprit isn't too difficult to guess after a certain point in the story is reached and you can fully understand his motivations.
I liked the setting of Galveston, Texas with the changes to the island over Smith's lifetime explained along with some of its history. It was more prominent in its past, before being usurped by Houston.
I liked the main character. He's quite solitary initially, happy enough with his books and his cat. He feels he has failed his sister, who went missing when his attention was elsewhere. A long search for answers has revealed little about her disappearance, though there are a few teasers here. Some mysteries you don't ever get answers to, in real life and in fiction. I'll be interested to see if this theme forms part of an over riding arc to the series.
Overall - very enjoyable.
4.5 from 5
Bill Crider has been enjoyed before - A Time for Hanging, Outrage at Blanco, Piano Man and a horror novel as Jack MacLane - Blood Dreams
Read - (listened to) March, 2021
Published - 1991
Page count - 227 (5 hrs 33 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible