Bone Island Mambo
An Alex Rutledge Mystery
By Tom Corcoran
(Minotaur Books, Hardcover, 9780312242817, 288pp.)
Publication Date: May 2001
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A pleasant Key West Sunday in January turns into a tropical nightmare.
It's early. The tourists are still asleep. Freelance and part-time crime photographer Alex Rutledge bicycles near-vacant streets, taking pictures for his own enjoyment. But he's challenged at a restoration district construction site, accused by a developer of snapping photos for an expose.
An hour later, the city police request Rutledge's forensic photo expertise. A murder victim has been found - at the same work site. Detective Dexter Hayes, Jr., is caustic and inept, and Rutledge is dismissed before he completes his work. An hour later, the county sheriff, Chicken Neck Liska, asks Alex to photograph another murder victim, this time on nearby Stock Island.
Rutledge soon suspects that the murders are linked - illogically, through him. He can't divulge the link to his lover, Teresa Barga, for fear of compromising her police media liaison job. Alex questions the detective's blundering, while the cops begin to link him to the crimes. A powerful real estate broker offers Rutledge an odd, lucrative job. Friends are threatened. He and Teresa dodge gunshots. Yet there is no identifiable antagonist, no motive, no reason for Rutledge to be a hub for evil. To protect himself and his friends, to avoid arrest - unsuccessfully, at first - he must scratch for information on an island where few tell the truth.
At the core of Bone Island Mambo is betrayal, retribution, and revenge. The plot twists in surprising directions, and Corcoran's characters are true characters, never as laid-back as they first appear. Visit Key West, and hang on for dear life.
Tom Corcoran has been a bartender, disc jockey, screenwriter, Navy officer and journalist. He co-wrote the Buffett hits "Fins" and "Cuban Crimes of Passion." He is the author of Gumbo Limbo, Bone Island Mambo, and other Alex Rutledge mysteries. He lives in the Lower Keys, Florida.