by Gillian Royes

Simon & Schuster, $15.00, 306 pages

Shadrack Myers is content: working for an American, Eric Keller, he tends the bar, eases conflicts amongst the townspeople and can tell when trouble is coming. This time, trouble is in the form of Simone, a strange and troubled woman who has taken residence on Eric’s island in his now-defunct hotel. Her arrival stirs things up in the small village and she inadvertently becomes the target for two local men embroiled in a political conspiracy.

The Goat Woman of Largo Bay is part detective story, part study of one woman’s grief. The author does an outstanding job of creating a small Jamaican village – it is so vivid that the reader feels part of the environment – and deftly shows the social and political life on the island. The two sides of the story – Shad’s search for information and Simone’s journey through grief – are fascinating but at times feel like they should be in two separate books. The love scene, as well, is unexpectedly vivid, giving a sharp departure from the subtlety of the rest of the book. Despite these issues, the novel is an absorbing read and one that won’t be forgotten quickly.

Barbara Cothern