Author: Leona Bodie

Publisher: WRB Publishing

ISBN 978-0-9844198-1-4

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There is no mystery here. Shadow Cay is a thriller and the subject is revenge. The plot details are intriguing and complex enough that you have an interesting read that will last you through the rest of your summer trips to the beach—the book is longer than your average thriller and the characters suffer a lot before all is resolved. There is no subtlety here. Ms. Bodie’s graphic scene constructions and characterizations are raw and gutsy, but they are an integral part of the story, not just for shock value. I recommend the book with one important caveat: it’s not for the squeamish.

There are two parallel stories in Shadow Cay. Madeleine “Maddy” Nesbitt, a Caribbean beauty with latent psychic powers, is after the Colombian drug lord Enrique “Rico” Salazar, the psychopath who killed her parents. After brutalizing and attempting to brainwash her, she disappears with some of his cocaine money in order to plot his destruction. He is also the man responsible for scuttling a tour ship she was on as a teenager, killing most on board. Peter Duncan, our second hero, ex-military man, and expert on quality control, is after Adam “AJ” Hartman, manufacturer of flawed pacemakers.

There are two connections between the two stories. In the beginning the boy Peter saves Maddy from drowning when Rico scuttles the tour boat. In the end the two stories of revenge against Rico and AJ are brought together because their businesses are connected: AJ launders money for Rico and also receives financing from the drug lord. Peter and Maddy’s goals become one.

Some might consider these villains to be stereotypes. Rico is an amalgam of some of the real life leaders of the Cali and other Colombian cartels whose internecine wars rocked Colombia during the late eighties and early nineties. AJ is a stereotypical model of the sociopathic CEO that is only interested in profit. The two villains went to college together and hook up as a matter of business convenience. They reinforce each other’s bad qualities, leading both to commit murder on a mass scale. You, the reader, can’t help sympathizing with Maddy and Peter in their struggle—you want the villains to die.

Revenge is a basic human emotion. I often go down this emotional roller coaster myself when I think about the murderers in al Qaeda (which play only a peripheral role in this story)—I lost a relative in the first plane that hit the WTC and many friends in the plane that hit the Pentagon. Yet we have to control these emotions, to rationally focus them in a way so that they become a productive force. I think Ms. Bodie does a good job of showing how such emotions of revenge can be very destructive, mostly in Maddy’s case, but also Peter’s. I can relate to this struggle.

I loved the simple cover. So much of this novel revolves around ships and the ocean. The cover portrays a porthole and you are looking at one of the villain’s ships? Or the tour ship that Rico scuttled, almost drowning Peter and Maddy? The exact nature of the ship is unimportant, of course; you know first-hand that a lot of the action in this novel takes place on and around the water.

Several minor points distracted me as I read and studied this novel. I’ll list them here for completeness, but they only caused me to give this book a 9.5 out of 10 instead of a 10.

First, at the start of the novel, there is an over abundance of flash backs. Some of these are necessary as Ms. Bodie reaches far back into the past, but others could be naturally woven into the flow of the plot. I found them disconcerting enough that I had to keep flipping back to material already read in my first read through (on a second read through for a review, I most always flip back and forth). They also made the story drag at the beginning, although there was a nice acceleration at the end—maybe too much. At times I felt this is a first draft and that maybe some major revisions are necessary, especially in the beginning.

Second, given Ms. Bodie’s familiarity with forensics, I would have liked to see Vanessa’s character developed a little more. She is the wife of Peter’s co-worker in AJ’s company and a forensic scientist. Yes, I know, the book is already long, but she is an interesting character. Perhaps a sequel?

Third, I saw no need to give Maddy psychic powers. She would have been much more of a gutsy hero for me if she was just a bright kid faced with a nearly impossible situation. Same goes for Peter. I am running the risk of calling something psychic when Ms. Bodie might only call it strong intuition, but I just don’t think their so-called visions are necessary to the story.

Fourth, there are errors in depicting the scenes in Colombia. To the average reader, these might be irrelevant, but my familiarity with the country and its history brought these errors to my attention. In particular, the illicit drug trade in Colombia, led by people like Rico, was taken over by the guerrilla before the time of this novel—namely by the FARC, who have forsaken their Marxist ideology and transitioned quite successfully into drug suppliers and kidnappers. The cartels were then and are more prominent now in Mexico, with the FARC, the Afghans, and others as major suppliers.

Fifth, where did Connor Monroe come from? In a key shootout the DEA agent steps in and saves the day. How did he come to be there? Maybe I just missed this detail (there are a lot of them in this novel), but again, this wasn’t necessary. Peter knows how to use a gun. His role in the shootout and some of his previous history with AJ makes him look weak and ineffective, hardly an appropriate match-up for the vengeful Maddy. It almost seems that Ms. Bodie uses the first part of the novel to show how ineffective drug enforcement is and then paradoxically has them step forward and save the day.

Finally, the book is badly in need of editing. I’m not talking about questions of style. I’m talking about just plain old errors all through the book. Dialog is often terminated incorrectly. Typos that are words and therefore not caught by a spell checker are common. The South American country is Colombia, not Columbia. A lot of the Spanish is incorrect.

These are all very minor nits to pick and detract only a little from the reading pleasure. Otherwise, Ms. Bodie had done a good job; this novel is an entertaining read. Raw and gritty, but entertaining. Enjoy.

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