Mark Terry

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rebel Island by Rick Riordan

September 24, 2007

I recently read REBEL ISLAND, Rick Riordan's latest private eye novel featuring Tres Navarre.

Here's the opening:

We got married in a thunderstorm. That should've been my first warning.

Before I talk a bit more about the book, I wanted to share a little bit more of the opening, because it amused me.

The sky opened up, and our outdoor wedding became a footrace to the chapel with the retired Baptist minister and the Buddhist monk leading the pack.

Larry Cho, the monk, had a commanding early lead, but Reverend Buckner Fanning held steady around the tamale table while Larry the Buddhist had to swerve to avoid a beer keg and got blocked out by a couple of bail bondsmen. Buckner was long retired, but he sure stayed fit. He won the race to the chapel and held the door for the others as we came pouring in.

Anyway, what's the book about? Well, Tres' now-wife, Maia, is 8-1/2 months pregnant at their wedding, so they really hadn't planned a honeymoon. Tres' brother, Garrett, suggests they honeymoon on Rebel Island. He's heading down there to this Texas Gulf Coast island where his friends runs a hotel, and his friend needs a favor anyway.

Tres has plenty of reasons to say no--Rebel Island was the site of some very unpleasant family vacations when he was a kid, but he doesn't. And pretty soon he and his wife Maia are stuck on a small island in an old mansion-turned-hotel with a bunch of misfits while what was a small tropical storm turns into a hurricane and isolates the island from the rest of the world. And then people start dying...

In a fairly ingenious way Riordan turns a PI novel into both a locked-room mystery and an odd version of the British country house mystery (although there are no Brits here, but plenty of Mexicans and screwed up south Texans). You might have to work a little harder to suspend your disbelief here--this group of residents certainly have a lot of hidden agendas--but Riordan handles things so well, deftly mixing his first-person narrative with third-person POVs, that a complex storyline and characterizations are able to overcome any of the plot's liabilities. At least I thought so. I was very entertained and enjoyed the hell out of the book.


Mark Terry


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