Monday, November 29, 2010

Tina's Review of SHADOWS OVER PARADISE by Anne K. Edwards

            The Beach Read — it’s a genre unto itself. The kind of book that lends itself well to a sandy spot next to a rolling ocean, a comfy chaise lounger, an umbrella. For me, the ultimate beach read is a certain type of mystery novel — character-driven but well-plotted, intelligent but not stiffly cerebral, preferably with an exotic setting and lush descriptions. No forensic analysis please. And no psychotically clever serial killers either. Just average people caught up in that most ordinary of extraordinary events — good old-fashioned murder.
            Those are my requirements. If that sounds good to you, then pull up a towel next to me and I’ll share Shadows Over Paradise by Anne K. Edwards with you.
            The plot starts off like any good vacation — promises of sun and sand and exotic splendor. There’s a wedding in the works, a gathering of intriguing characters (and the usual in-fighting that such gatherings provoke). Add a splash of deceitful sneakiness, throw in a vengeful female rival, shake well with a few chunks of cold-blooded ambition, and you’ve got yourself a treachery cocktail. And all this happens before the first body washes up on the beach for our intrepid heroine, Julia Graye, to find.
            Edwards’ writing is fine — descriptive phrases like “the air around them prickled their skin” develop both setting and tone. And the history of the Mantuan Islands is woven within the narrative with finesse, so that the bits and pieces of this setting don't feel like a fictional travelogue.
            So if you’re lucky enough to have a warm beach waiting for you, grab Shadows over Paradise and find yourself a nice spot by the water. I’d recommend you take an umbrella drink with you — something fruity and cool and laced with deceptive amounts of rum.