Sun, Sand, Murder|
A Mystery (Teddy Creque Mysteries)
Minotaur Books, 2016, HC, 288 pp, $24.99
Special Constable Teddy Creque is the only police presence on the tiny British Virgin Island of Anegada, population 200.The last crime on the island was committed in 1681, so Teddy is completely unprepared when Paul Kelliher, an American professor studying the waning local iguana population is found shot in the head by the local blond dreadlocked stoner De White Rasta.
At the scene Teddy finds Paul's body crawling with crabs and gulls. With very few choices - leave the body in situ - or try to preserve as much as possible by dragging it into the professor's tent, he does what seems logical to him and moves the body before reporting it to his superiors in the Royal Virgin Island Police Force. This decision gets him kicked off the case by his Deputy Commissioner Howard Lane, who relegates Teddy to informing the next of kin. Hoping to keep his job Creque works to find Kelliher's family but this proves difficult, there is no such person as Professor Paul Kelliher.
Creque realizes quickly that if he doesn't investigate the murder will go cold. A murder on his small island is no match for the politics of the cash cow of the tourist industry. Though he has been ordered off the case Teddy feels an obligation to his village and to himself to find the murderer. Because he is aware of his inexperience it is interesting to listen to his internal dialogue and follow him through his mistakes and insights.
While Deputy Commissioner Lane follows the trail of drug smuggling, due to De White Rasta's obvious weed habit, Creque travels down another lane after finding an encrypted journal and a map in the victim's possessions. It seems there may be a treasure on the island and more than a few people have been searching for it, and willing to kill.
This is John Keyse-Walkers debut novel, and it is no wonder that this self-proclaimed "sixty year old rookie" won the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award in 2015. The twists are frequent and the characters well rounded. Keyse-Walker places the reader comfortably on the island of Anegada with its harsh inland to beautiful coast and intriguing history. Teddy Creque is a flawed but determined man and it's a pleasure to watch his tenacity and growth as the novel leads us to the inevitable life changing conclusion.