Death on Paradise Island, B.M. Allsopp

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

First in a series of novels based in Fiji, DEATH ON PARADISE ISLAND introduces Inspector Josefa Horseman and Sergeant Susila Singh of the Fiji Police Force, alongside a cast of supporting police characters, set elegantly within the local society and culture. 

Readers are introduced to Horseman as a local hero - not because of his policing credentials, he's more admired for his rugby playing, despite his career having been curtailed by a shattered knee. He's from a big family, who live with the traditions and rituals of their culture, ruled by his strong, independent, and forthright mother, part of a wider society for which rugby is all consuming. But the traditional celebrations planned by the family on his return from the US are interrupted by the discovery of a young local girl's body, a worker at the resort located beside the coral reef where her body is found snagged. Horseman finds himself leading the investigation into her death, and meeting his new offsider, Sergeant Susila Singh, before he's even had a chance to unpack, so his family will have to wait until he's able to solve what quickly becomes a complicated, knotty case.

On the gentler side of crime fiction, this debut novel, has excellent balance between plot, character and setting. The plot is nicely twisty, with doubt over everything about this young girl's death. Not exactly closed room, despite her death on a small island, there are more than enough feasible suspects with no particularly obvious reasons to be involved in her suspicious death. The main characters are strongly executed with just enough of the personal and professional to give you an opportunity to get to know Horseman, and hopefully more to come on Singh in upcoming books. There's a tremendous sense of place and culture about the book as well, with a tropical climate, a laid-back approach to life, and enough local problems to make it believable.

The author of this series, B.M. Allsopp lived for sometime firstly in PNG and then in Fiji and she obviously has great affection for this place, without over-egging the perfection. It's cleverly done, most observation is through the eyes of the local hero, recently returned, with no rose-coloured glasses in sight. Horseman is a central character with considerable series potential, nothing like some (okay so this reader) might have expected of a rugby playing, police inspector. 

Definitely a series to keep an eye on, the second book DEATH BY TRADITION is available now as well. 

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Death on Paradise Island is the first book in the Fiji Islands Mystery Series, introducing Inspector Josefa Horseman and Sergeant Susila Singh of the Fiji Police Force. 

A girl’s body is found snagged on the coral reef at Fiji’s high-end Paradise Island resort, after festivities for a new marine reserve. Detective Joe Horseman, his rugby career wrecked by a shattered knee, no sooner lands at Suva airport after a year in the U.S. than he’s packed off to investigate. While Horseman is in two minds about his future, Sergeant Susila Singh is ambitious and on her way up. To solve what seems an inexplicable death, they must together drag to the surface secrets that have no place in paradise. 

Review Death on Paradise Island, B.M. Allsopp
Karen Chisholm
Tuesday, August 6, 2019

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