Police sergeant Merryll Manning is on vacation on an island in the Florida Keys for a Murder Mystery weekend. The plan is to solve the mystery and win a cash prize of $5,000.00. Easier said than done. Merry has his teenage-looking girlfriend Susan Ford along for the trip. Susan isn’t above using her sexuality to keep Merryll flustered and under her thumb.
Merryll Manning: Trapped On Mystery Island by John Howard Reid was published more than twenty years ago in Australia. The first installment of the twelve part Merryll Mysteries made its American debut in the spring of 2008. The game players are an eclectic group including a priest, lawyer, novelist, as well as several actors who may or may not be playing parts in the game. Merryll begins mingling with the players as only he can. His abrasive, eccentric style quickly puts him at odds with several of the gamers. Merry continuously aggravates the priest with religious debates; while Susan’s sexy and spunky charms push and pull Merryll’s concentration from the game.
Soon the first victim of the game falls as Merryll has predicted. The others have a problem with a policeman’s unfair advantage in the game. Others believe Susan is under-age and doubt Manning is a cop at all.
When blood is found, Merryll traces it to a real murder victim. The horrific bloody murder scene has a profound affect on Merryll. Another gamer disappears during a smoke break. With no way to contact the mainland, to leave the island, or to inform the police, Merryll takes over the investigation.
Author John Howard Reid has an undeniable skill for keeping the reader guessing who-dun-it. Reid points the finger of guilt, through Merryll, at many of the characters. The reader keeps turning pages to see who Merryll will infuriate next with his accusations and taunts. Tension, mistrust, suspense, and a quick pace keep the reader captivated to the final page.
Don’t mistake this as another self-published vanity project. John Howard Reid is a talented, experienced writer with more than 70 books to his credit. His dialogue is brilliant in the back-and-forth banter between Merryll and the priest, and Merryll and the novelist. He paints scenes so well that you expect to see Merryll and his suspect burst into your living room.
Books three and four in the series are scheduled for release in 2010 with Merryll Manning: Beachfront Holiday set for release in June. Merryll Manning is a wonderful, old-fashioned style mystery series. Start here with Trapped on Mystery Island and you’ll be hooked. Highly Recommended.