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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful mix of past, present and future, of reality and hope
First, any book that ends with "bananaquits" (the signature little bird of the islands) will get my vote. I've stayed many times at the Maho Bay eco-resort that is at the heart of this intriguing mystery and am familiar with all the book's spot-on accurate references to it and the beautiful island of St. John and its people. Anyone who has been there would love the...
Published on April 12, 2012 by A. Forsyth

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange story
I am not sure how I feel about this book. It wasn't really a mystery in the traditional sense.....I have a hard time knowing exactly what it was. The main character was a bit shady and not very likeable. I actually had a hard time relating to any to any of the characters.

The story jumped all over the place......from character to character and from time...
Published on March 10, 2012 by jrv


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange story, March 10, 2012
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I am not sure how I feel about this book. It wasn't really a mystery in the traditional sense.....I have a hard time knowing exactly what it was. The main character was a bit shady and not very likeable. I actually had a hard time relating to any to any of the characters.

The story jumped all over the place......from character to character and from time period to time period. I had a hard time following it. All in all, I found it a strange tale and not all that enjoyable. I did like the descriptions of the island and some of the historical details. I have never read any other books by this author and because of this book probably won't.

I normally do not like books that continually jump around in time or in characters...three stars was the best I could do and that was generous.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful mix of past, present and future, of reality and hope, April 12, 2012
By 
A. Forsyth (Logan, UT United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands) (Mass Market Paperback)
First, any book that ends with "bananaquits" (the signature little bird of the islands) will get my vote. I've stayed many times at the Maho Bay eco-resort that is at the heart of this intriguing mystery and am familiar with all the book's spot-on accurate references to it and the beautiful island of St. John and its people. Anyone who has been there would love the familiarity of the book -- and be surprised and enlightened by the historical references to the island's slave history. And anyone who has not been there should go, and stay at Maho Bay. In addition to providing the reader an engrossing mystery and absorbing piece of historical fiction, the author has cleverly given hope to those of us who have been touched by paradise and are outraged that it may be threatened by greedy development. Five stars for that alone!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Has promise, but ultimately disappointing, 2.5 stars, April 2, 2012
By 
CJ-MO (Missouri, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands) (Mass Market Paperback)
Hannah Sheridan, an employee at the resort managed by Pen Hoffstra, has disappeared at sea. While the captain and the other two passengers survived when their water taxi sank, Hannah vanished. Some of the superstitious island people think Hannah was a victim of the spirit of the Amina Slave Princess, a woman from island history. Pen knows Hannah came to the resort under a false name and false pretenses but keeps as much information about Hannah to herself, for mysterious reasons of her own.

"Adrift on St. John" is a very unusual book. The premise of someone from the mainland United States relocating to the Virgin Islands to run a resort is a good one. There are plenty of unique characters in the book that add to the story. Pen, the main character, is not a typical main character for a cozy mystery. At best, she can be described as a slacker who is "ethically challenged", but from the beginning we see she that she has a shady past that she may or may not have left behind when she moved to St. John. She often shows up to work hung-over and naps on the couch in her office and delegates all important tasks and decisions to her assistant Vivian. I could relate to Pen during the few times when her vulnerability shows through her casual attitude, but most of the time I found it hard to care about her.

The book starts out intriguing with the disappearance of Hannah, an introduction to some of the main characters, and historical information about the sugar industry and the slave trade in the Caribbean. Island history and current island politics play a part in the mystery, so this background information is both interesting and necessary in understanding the relation of the iconic Slave Princess of the Amina, a tribe who rebelled against the Dutch, to the current story. There is more to Pen than meets the eye as well, and a surprising plot turn near the beginning definitely caught my attention.

Unfortunately, after a promising beginning, the book quickly goes downhill. While there is the framework of an interesting story in this novel, it is lost in the way the story is told. Throughout the book, there are so many changes in time, place, and point of view from one chapter to the next, the plot becomes disjointed and the smooth flow of the story is lost. Starting each new chapter became so much of a struggle to determine who was narrating, what was going on, and when it was occurring that I lost track of the story several times. Something is wrong when a mystery becomes more confusing than intriguing. The humor, historical details, setting, and plot twists are great, but unfortunately the jumbled way the story is told make this a less than average book for me.

This review was originally written for The Season EZine. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Rebecca Hale Story, April 28, 2012
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This review is from: Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands) (Mass Market Paperback)
Adrift on St. John is a good, solid Rebecca Hale story. You might want to start with her "How to..." series first. She's a writer with her own particular rhythm and very unique style. This book was just as enjoyable and a bit more "adult".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No one is who he/she seems in this book!, July 4, 2012
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This review is from: Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands) (Mass Market Paperback)
Other reviewers found the plot hard to follow and I can see how someone would say that. I found it engrossing, like I was untangling a web of crossed lines. The sense of place is terrific; I've been to St Thomas and St John and stayed at Caneel Bay so I loved the local references. Also enjoyed learning some more of the history. I have never read the author's other books but I will now and will eagerly await the next mystery in the islands.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical cozy-- and it's good!, December 16, 2012
This review is from: Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands) (Mass Market Paperback)
First Line: Deep within the murky, unlit darkness of the Caribbean waters skirting the northern tip of the Lesser Antilles, the stocky shadow of a catamaran powerboat rocked against a wooden pier off the tiny island of St. John.

For the past four years Penelope Hoffstra has been a resort manager on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Penelope knows firsthand that there's no such thing as a tropical paradise, so when one of the resort's employees is reported to be killed when a water taxi sinks off the coast, she's not surprised that all is not what it appears to be.

If you begin reading this book expecting it to be a run-of-the-mill cozy mystery, you're going to become confused rather quickly. Rebecca M. Hale has written something different, and if you're willing to go with the flow, chances are you're going to appreciate it just as much as I did.

The main character is one Penelope "Pen" Hoffstra, resident manager of a resort on St. John. From almost the very beginning, we learn that she's not what she appears to be. She leaves most of the work to her assistant Vivian to take care of while Pen drinks more than she should and spends her days either hanging out at the table back by the dumpster outside the Crunchy Carrot where Richard the rooster forages for French fries, or sitting on her balcony chatting with Fred the iguana. Actually Richard and Fred were two of my favorite characters in the book. For one thing neither of them pretended to be something they weren't.

Yes, there are plenty of people pretending to be someone else, and we hear from several of them because Pen isn't the only narrator in the book. Hale also includes bits of the history of the island throughout the book, including information about eighteenth-century slave rebellion, which is woven into the plot.

None of the characters are particularly likable in this book, but that didn't bother me much. Why? Because Hale had me wondering what in the world they were all up to, and I had to keep reading to find out the answers to all my questions. The only thing that did bother me a bit was that, in the second half of the book, the narrator changed back and forth so quickly that it sometimes took me a paragraph or two to get my bearings once more.

Off balance or not, I really enjoyed this foray into the unexpected, and I look forward to reading the next book in this series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good series, September 26, 2012
By 
kayek (Portland, OR,USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands) (Mass Market Paperback)
Penelope Hoffstra, the manager of an island resort, knows what the tropical paradise is not as much as what it is. Pen, as she is known by, has been there four years and lets her assistant Vivian do most of the "heavy lifting" in running the resort. Pen seems to have an abundance of secrets and rather questionable work habits. When Hannah Sheridan appears to work at the resort, Pen finds her a mystery. With Beulah, the maid, Conrad, the annual visitor, Roger, the rooster, and other colorful characters it is an interesting story. Add the Amina Slave Princess from the 1733 Slave Revolt on St John, and everything gets very complicated. I liked this, the first book in the series, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next book. I also liked learning about the local history, including the story of the Amina Slave Princess.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars intriguing thriller, March 6, 2012
This review is from: Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands) (Mass Market Paperback)
Four years ago, Hannah Sheridan sat in the Miami airport fearing she would soon be debarred for running a shady law practice when a mysterious man offered her a job with a new identity. Without any hesitation she accepted a position to run an exotic resort as Pen Hoffstra on the Caribbean island of St. John.

Since that miraculous intervention, Pen has felt as if she has been on a four-year vacation as she loves her job and her new home. No one is more shocked than Pen when Hannah Sheridan arrives at the resort to install Wi-Fi access. Her folder that is given to assistant manager Vivian is empty; just like what Pen provided four years ago when she came as the new manager. When Hannah Sheridan vanishes at sea, the locals insist the Amina Slave Princess who led the early eighteenth century slave revolt is behind the disappearance. Now Pen knows why a stranger offered her this gig in what is no longer paradise for the truth will not set you free.

Giving Rupert a rest after his recent road trip (see the charming Cats and Curios Mysteries - How To Moon A Cat), the first Mystery In The islands is an intriguing but difficult novel to follow due to choppy transitions between the characters and the abrupt switching time frames. The flashback to the real 1733 slave revolt on this Virgin Island provides a sense of historical location, but never quite connects with the twenty first century main theme of what is happening to Pen Hoffstra nee Hannah Sheridan even with a sham masquerade of the Princess. Still fans who want something different will enjoy being Adrift on St. John.

Harriet Klausner
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You've Got to be Kidding., March 22, 2012
By 
Avid Reader (Worcester, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands) (Mass Market Paperback)
Don't waste your money on this book - you most likely will walk away shaking your head. This is long, jumbled, and not worth the effort.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classical Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, April 2, 2012
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This review is from: Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands) (Mass Market Paperback)
First of all just to get it out ...I loved this book. If you read this book expecting a series like Ms. Hale's other popular one...it is Not! This book, in my opinion, is as fine a piece of literature of the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller genres that I've read in quite a while.

I never put together the orchestrator of the mysteries until the very ending when the Author revealed it to me. This was a mystery novel. Not a cozy murder, or a murder mystery at all, this book was far more complex and layered than that.

As I began the journey with a ship wreck in St. John, I had already picked up on tones of 'Nevermore...' from the famous horror story of Edgar Allan Poe's- "The Raven". Trust me it set the tone of this book. Only it wasn't a Raven uttering the message of doom, but an elderly housekeeper of a Famous resort on St. John. Regardless, I was properly creeped out.

We are introduced to Hannah Sheridan, the slightly less than honorable lawyer. Next we meet up with Pen Hoffstra, Director of the resort. Now the book moves on to almost a novel reminiscent of the famous, "Hawaii." Jumping from the 1600's to 1733 to 1960 to present and back and forth...we learn the origins of the natives and non-natives to St. John. The book is rich in history and color of the periods and especially the Amina Slaves brought to work the treacherous soil of St. John for a sugar plantation. Now we are introduced to "Amina Slave Princess." During this history lesson we are introduced to more of Pen's fellow workers and friends. Mysteries abound.

The anniversary of the Amina Slave rebellion is approaching and at the same time the Constitutional Convention is adjoining. We are treated to the political intrigue that now made me think of the "Manchurian Candidate." You can feel the passions boiling of 'Native Rights.' The dialog is superb.

Added to all this political intrigue, identity confusion, and rebellion boiling, there is yet another mystery blended in...The Eco-resort is being sold and this is very unpopular with tourists and the residents. Is this why the ghost of the Amina Slave Princess has returned?

Who is Hannah Sheridan, Who is Pen Hoffstra? Who is or what is the Slave Princess and what has this to do with the futures of all on St. John?

As Cannons boom, and storms rage, ships sink and constitutions are re-written...you find yourself on the edge of your chair, turning page after page.

This book is a Mystery Novel. It is a fine example of classical traditional mystery thrillers. I can barely wait until the next book comes out.
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Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands)
Adrift on St. John (Mystery in the Islands) by Rebecca M. Hale (Mass Market Paperback - March 6, 2012)
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