"...it looked somewhat as if murder investigations in St. Callista conducted themselves. And, he thought grimly, conduct itself it could. He was on vacation."
After several years of tiring private eye work, Desmond Shannon finally takes a vacation to the island of St. Callista in the British West Indies but his vacation proves to be anything but restful when he unwillingly heads the investigation into the poisoning of one of the island's few white residents.
Although Shannon is a private eye, the background and cast of characters of the book make it similar to a British village mystery. In St. Callista Shannon undertakes the murder investigation among the vicar, his sister, several estate owners, a spinster and various other residents who congregate nightly at the local club and, who for the most part, are a prejudicial and insular bunch. They are most vocal in their enmity toward Jack Howell, a pacifist and plantation owner, and Shannon allows himself to be drawn into the case to avoid the crime being conveniently pinned on Howell. While Shannon defends Howell's right of conscience against the colony's bias, the same consideration does not extend to the island's non-white residents with Shannon's attitude varying from the condescending to the outright threatening (suggesting that an island bully needs a whipping) which makes for some uneasy reading.
While the choice of victim is surprising, the mystery is rather thin and the Desmond Shannon series is much better served with a New York setting.
Pictured is the author who used her initials when writing the series, as Mary Violet isn't the best name under which to be writing a hard-boiled mystery.