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Jamaica Me Dead    by Bob Morris order for
Jamaica Me Dead
by Bob Morris
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Bob Morris's debut mystery, Bahamarama, has been nominated for an Edgar Award and also been named by Library Journal as one of the best mysteries of 2004. In Jamaica Me Dead, Morris continues his highly entertaining series, following lead character Zack Chasteen as he heads out on another Caribbean caper.

Zack's former Miami Dolphins teammate, Monk DeVane, invites him and his British ladylove, Barbara, to a half-time party in one of the Florida Field stadium's exclusive skyboxes. Monk is eager to have Zack meet his boss, Darcy Whitehall, owner of Libido, a chain of adult-anything-goes Caribbean resorts. Moments after arriving in the skybox, chaos ensues. There's a bomb scare and Whitehall is the target. The bomb turns out to be a dud, but still, Whitehall is worried, not only about his welfare, but also that of his son, Alan, who's running for parliament back in Jamaica. Monk suggests that Zack join Whitehall's security team, and Zack agrees. They barely arrive in Montego Bay when a violent explosion kills Monk, leaving Zack shocked and saddened at his friend's death; and also determined to discover who's responsible.

Zack finds his quest becoming ever more complicated as he begins sifting through a growing list of suspects. Did a vocal action group have it in for Alan, or was it one of his political rivals? Zack begins to think so, once he learns that in Jamaica 'everything is politics'. Or was the culprit perhaps Freddie Arzghanian, Darcy's very shady former money-laundering buddy? And why do two guys from the American Embassy want Zack to stop asking questions? As the puzzle pieces begin falling into place, Zack realizes he can't confront the bad guys on his own and calls in reinforcements, including his mysterious and unpredictable Indian friend Boggy.

Great characterizations, a thorough knowledge of his locales, plus an easy-breezy style that's hard to resist make this another must read. Zack is at his wisecracking best, while the situations he finds himself in alternate between suspenseful and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Zack's interplay with two playful female Libido guests who set their sights on him is particularly memorable. Equally odd is Zack's relationship with Boggy, the mysterious Indian who communes with spirits and brews up body cleansing bush teas that Zack describes as 'somewhere-between-suitcase-full-of-dirty-socks and floor-that-has-been-mopped-with-Pine-Sol'. If you have a yen for a new mystery that's smart, funny, and slightly off-kilter, then Jamaica Me Dead is for you.

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