Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Murder on Paradise Island by Robin Forsythe

Geoffrey Mayne needed a vacation. He had worked hard to pass his bar exams, and then had caught influenza. His Aunt Emily insisted that he needed to take a sea voyage. She suggested on educational trip to Rome, Egypt and the Holy Land. Geoffrey, however, selected to trip to the Pacific islands because he had so enjoyed Treasure Island and similar books when he was a boy.

So he was steaming toward the Marquesas Islands on the Charles James Fox when the bad weather hit. The ship tossed and turned in a manner to upset any traveler. Geoffrey was still able to get about and eat. It was while having dinner that he met the delightful young woman, Freda Shannon, who was in the cabin next to his. Then disaster struck in the night. Something on the ship caught on fire and the passengers were ordered to the lifeboats. Geoffrey got into lifeboat 7, but something caught as they tried to lower the boat, and Geoffrey was thrown from the lifeboat into the sea. He lashed himself to some floating debris and floated until he was tossed up on the shore of an island.

As Geoffrey explored the island and tried to find something to eat, he became very aware that modern man certainly lacked the skills to survive in this situation. Who in the world knew how to make a fire by rubbing two sticks together? Then he came upon a small cabin which had apparently been occupied by someone at some time. The cabin gave him shelter for the night, and the next day he found the passengers of lifeboat 6 who had managed to wash up on the island. There was Freda Shannon, whom he had met before and her maid Violet. There were Mr. Oscar Lingwood, fat-faced and given to drinking, Major Dansie who would turn out to have knowledge of how to survive in the South Pacific, Mr. Hanchett who was the strong silent type, Mr. Haylock who was the "silly ass of the ship" and Walter Wink who was Mr. Lingwood's manservant.

The next day they got organized. Freda and Violet made the most important discovery. As they were cleaning the cabin, they lifted up a mat and found a trap door underneath. The trap door led to underground tunnels which contained canned food and some brandy, and supplies like picks and shovels. Two of the men who were out exploring were shot at by somebody with a rifle, but they did not see who it was. Their lives on this island became much more dangerous.

Then one member of the group was murdered.  Major Dansie announced that he would be the leader of the group, but tensions and hostilities among the members arose. Several of the men were especially upset over who would get the attention of and control over Freda.  There were more activities by the mysterious shooter which the members of the group just could not find. The whole situation led to a very tense climax.

I enjoyed this book, and found it hard to put down. It certainly held my interest as life on the island became more dangerous. It reminded me of the TV series Lost with the exploration of the island and the various discoveries which were made.

This book was published in 1937. Robin Forsythe was born in Pakistan, and returned to the United Kingdom when he was six. When he was 49 and working as a clerk at Somerset House in London, he was arrested for theft and fraud. He was sentenced to 15 months, and while in prison, he started writing his first detective novel Missing or Murdered.

I have read this book for the 2018 Just the Facts, Ma'am Mystery Challenge, and it will be entered in my detective notebook in the category of Where - On an Island.


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