Berkley Prime Crime - 2001
ISBN 0425179303 - Paperback
Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Susan McBride,
 Buy a Copy

As Kate Grilley's debut Kelly Ryan mystery, DEATH DANCES TO A REGGAE BEAT, was nominated for an Agatha Award, I was all the more intrigued to read her sophomore effort, DEATH DANCES TO AN ILL WIND.  What I found was a murder mystery that plays second banana to the rhythm of Kelly's life on the Caribbean island of St. Chris.  And that's not a bad thing.

Kelly manages a small radio station in Isabeya on St. Chris and lunches with pals, real estate broker Margo and lawyer Abby.  Life is laid back for Kelly, a former city dweller from the States who shucked it all for her tropical paradise.  She works, she hangs out with her buddies, her cat Minx or her boyfriend Michael. 

But the weather--and Kelly's stress level--take a double hit when Hurricane Gilda makes a beeline toward St. Chris and old nemesis, Leila Mae Turner, blows in to stir up trouble.  After the storm devastates the tiny island, leaving all without utilities and many with roofs "gone bush," a homeless woman known as "The Spitter" is found floating in the harbor.  Only it doesn't look like Gilda was responsible for her death.

Between standing in lines for generator fuel and picking up the pieces of her life temporarily turned to chaos, Kelly learns more about "The Spitter" and what may have cost her her life. 

DEATH RIDES AN ILL WIND provides an interesting glimpse of the daydream we all have of living in the tropics--the good and the bad--and Kelly Ryan is a comfortable tour guide.  Don't expect nail-biting suspense or car chases--heck, most vehicles on St. Chris are too rusted to run--as what Kate Grilley provides is a colorful and engaging read that will take your mind off the daily grind for awhile.  Mama, you'll be imagining the sweet scent of fresh key lime and the twinkle of a turquoise ocean as you turn every page.

©Copyright. All Rights Reserved.