Island of Illusions
by Jennifer L. Johnson
Sara Woods is a masseuse with a budding new career as a private detective. Richard, the pro showing her the ropes, sends her and her husband on a faux golfing trip to Oahu, Hawaii so Sara can secretly help him track down the kidnapper of baby Toby. Will Sara’s crumbling marriage stand the test of a vacation and the truth? Will she give into the mutual attraction between her and tech expert on the team, Max Stevens? Can they still crack the case when Murder gets thrown in the mix?
This was a well-crafted, realistic mystery with plenty of twists and turns. Through the story I wondered what was going to happen next and how they were going to figure it all out. I appreciated the realistic ending, not tidy black and white, but complicated, like life. The action flowed and the scenes were laid out just right.
Though the story stood by itself and I could easily discover the characters and their relationships, I think I missed out on a lot of the subtleties having not read the previous books in the series. Some relationships were unclear and some of the fallout of past interactions flew over my head.
I have mixed emotions about Sarah as a main character. I kept wondering why a masseuse would be better at detective work than a pro, and conversely why such an intelligent woman would choose a career as a masseuse. I identified with her feelings and her place in life, being the same age, but I had a lot of trouble liking Sarah as a character amid the ugliness of indifference in her marriage. Her eagerness to jump into another man’s…er…arms right away didn’t win her any sympathy from me either. I also didn’t trust the too-soon love interest Max. He was just too conveniently eager for me to believe he was the catch Sara thought him to be. The tang of adultery ruined their romantic moments for me.
Sarah’s love of food gained me a pound just by reading them and her coffee moments made my mouth water. My own love of Hawaii was reflected in her delight at her surroundings, too. I don’t blame Richard’s wife for being upset she didn’t get to join them. The details of this book were beautiful, and the attention to the subtle things really made this into an intelligent mystery.
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