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Murder on Tiki Island: A Noir Paranormal Mystery in the Florida Keys: By the author of Murder Behind the Closet Door Paperback – May 20, 2011
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About the Author
Tiki Chris Pinto is a Crazy Hot Rod Drivin’ Sax Playin’ Burger Eatin’ Retro Kat living in In Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Pinto is the author/editor of Tiki Lounge Talk (tikiloungetalk.com), a web-lounge dedicated to remembering the kool stuff from the Atomic Age and beyond, from big bands & film noir to jazz & cocktails at the Tiki Bar. He's been writing for over 25 years, has had several plays produced, and has won awards for his creative efforts. Inspired by the great noir detectives of the past, Tiki Chris truly enjoys writing in his own unique style, one that swings you back to the era of cool jazz, sexy dolls, finned cars and Film Noir, when Elvis and Sinatra shared the spotlight and the tough guy always got the dame. His most recent writings include "Murder Behind The Closet Door: The Wildwood Paranormal Mystery", "A Flash of Noir," a collection of short, 10-sentence noir-style stories, and the soon to be out "Murder Under the Boards: The Atlantic City Paranormal Mystery"
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The story is set in 1956, and follows Detective Bill Riggins, a tough New York City cop with an affinity for jazz and bourbon, and a distaste for crooks and scum. After a spirited interrogation of a drug pusher, officer Riggins takes a forced vacation to Tiki Island, located in the Florida Keys.
During Detective Riggins excursion, he gets mixed up with the resort owners seductive daughter, as well as a blonde bombshell who isn't entirely what she appears to be. Along the way, he gets wrongfully suspected of a brutal murder, and is forced to question his core beliefs when paranormal activity starts running rampant.
While I knew this book had the makings of a great story, and covered many of my personal interests, I had no clue just how good of a read this was going to be. This is solely due to the authors imagination and storytelling abilities. He paints such a vivid and clear picture of the settings he describes, it feels as if you are truly transported to another place and time. Whether it was a cold fall day in New York, or a sultry night in the Florida keys, I clearly got a vivid sense and feel for the environments, places, and things, which were so eloquently described by the author.
It was obvious to me that Chris Pinto is well versed with the genre of pulp noir, and is an immense fan of mid century culture. Detailed descriptions of mid century cars, decor, clothes, social culture, and lingo, are all incredibly accurate and era specific. If one had to perform research for a novel like this, I could easily see it taking several years to complete. Chris Pinto is indubitably a lifelong study in regards to the aforementioned topics.
Every character is successfully brought to life by the authors storytelling, which in turn adds to the books lifeblood. In fact.. the protagonist seemed so real, I couldn't help but wonder if the author drew upon himself as the basis for the character. There are parts of this book that had me biting my nails in suspense, and others that had the hair on the back of my neck standing on end.
Just as the characters are superbly written, so are the environments and situations described in the story. As an aspiring author, I would love to pick the writers brain about how the heck he could be so descriptive when describing surroundings like Key West back in the 1950's, not to mention eerie depictions of haunted houses and paranormal activity that takes place in the story.
Reading books before bedtime has long been a ritual of mine to wind down at the end of the day. However.. reading this book had the opposite effect on me. Many a night ended with me reading for an hour or two past my bedtime because I simply couldn't put it down. I truly can't remember the last time I read a page turner like Murder on Tiki Island. I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of mystery, pulp noir, paranormal, and mid century retro goodness. And if you're not, you will be after reading this book!
I read the previous work by this author, Murder Behind the Closet Door, and was an automatic pre-sold reader of whatever he might do next. I was not disappointed, in fact I like this novel much better.
It was refreshing and exciting to meet yet again Detective Riggins, as a younger man. It's the 1950s and he is already growing into a heroic figure, wrestling fiercely with his own invited demons of alcohol and lust. Yet, those are only youthful demons, and don't yet dominate him but rather colorfully twist teasingly around his solid moral compass. Detective Riggins is no saint, far from it. He is though a strong soul you can share too many drinks with at a remote tropical bar and in the morning depend on to have your back in a Key West alley.
Character development is ensured and rich and that alone would sell me on this book, but wait, there's more! I especially liked, and have yet to see it before, an opening prior to the show where Mr. Pinto takes an important step in storytelling. He offers up a musical playlist that the adventurer might enjoy while reading the story. I did indeed purchase those songs and played them while I read, my Fedora hat comfortably on my head, my feet propped up on an old leather footstool, an evening cocktail at my side. His research into the time period shows an understanding of a slice of Americana only our parents or grandparents enjoyed. And, Mr. Pinto takes us there, deeper than those black and white polaroids we found in the attic recently. We feel the world as a younger, fresher old friend, one that we now know better because of hearing a little history, a little backstory.
In the 'whodunnit' style of good mysteries, I found myself choosing the bad guys incorrectly at first, and then later when discovering the real "bad guy" found I could empathize with their circumstances. Often, we learn over the years a better way to distinguish dramatic crimes as either children of pure evil or good people put into impossible positions. Murder on Tiki Island has both, and eventually shows us which is which. It doesn't preach or condemn the characters and their behavior but lets the reader take up those tasks on their own.
Lastly, being a Tiki fan of the first order, I enjoyed the weaving of that theme throughout the book. This book frames quite a picture: the tropical heat, the thunderstorms offshore dancing with the sea and a little island beneath it all. It fit very well with the islands of Florida, a favorite place of mine since the late 1950s. I have often wondered what the world misses now that those hardy souls, those lucky souls, enjoyed prior to massive development and tourism. My guess is that they enjoyed some, hated some and lived it the best they could. Murder on Tiki Island took me there for a few hours, showed me the good and the bad and in a very subtle way entices me to await the next adventure from Detective Riggins.
This is not a quick read but it's well worth the time and the price is right. Bill Riggins is a very cool cop in the tradition of Sam Spade and the like. Loved the Tiki ambiance as well. Very evocative of the time and place. It takes more than a few twists and turns but all is resolved to my great satisfaction. I look forward to more detective noir from this author. Super summer read. probably a good winter read as well.
page turning mystery novel. His attention to detail is great. Quite a few times
I felt like I was right there on Tiki Island with Detective Riggins swilling mai tais,
mojitos and a host of other well built cocktails as he discovers all is not as idyllic as
it seems on this island resort in the Keys. I expected Humphrey Bogart to walk into a
scene every time I turned the page. A great read.
Most recent customer reviews
Cool cats and hot chicks.
Bogart stuff.Read more