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Bermuda Schwartz    by Bob Morris order for
Bermuda Schwartz
by Bob Morris
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Former football star turned palm tree farmer, Zack Chasteen, and his Taino right hand man Boggy like fishing and watching their palm trees grow, but their leisurely lifestyle comes to an abrupt end when they're invited to Bermuda for a birthday bash. Trula, the wealthy and eccentric aunt of Barbara Pickering (Zach's ladylove) has requested their attendance at her 75th birthday gala. She also wishes to purchase eight of Zack's best palm trees - ones that speak 'majesty, splendor, that sort of thing' - to reflect each decade that she's lived. Initially Zach's reluctant - transplanting Bismarck palms, having them shipped to Bermuda and guaranteeing their survival is no small feat. However, when Trula doubles the fee, Zach swiftly amends his decision.

While Barbara and her aunt finalize party preparations and Boggy oversees the planting of the palms, Zach finds himself at loose ends, so he decides to visit the cool two million he's got stashed in an offshore account. He discovers that his account is all but drained and the inscrutable bankers offer no satisfactory explanation. So naturally Zach begins an investigation of his own. The money trail leads to shady real estate developer Brewster Trimmingham, who's also in hawk to a local banker said to have ties to the Portuguese mafia. This escalating monetary dilemma does not sit well with Zach, whose only reason for coming to Bermuda in the first place was to appease his squeeze and spend much-needed quality time with her.

To make matters even more complicated, a body washes up on Trula's private beach, and before the second Bismarck palm is even securely in the ground, Zach's fallen in with wily Teddy Schwartz, legendary treasure hunter and Trula's current lover. How do the death of a young marine archeologist, the machinations of secret and ancient religious sect, and the shady dealings of a geriatric treasure hunter all tie together? Zach Chasteen has every intention of finding out - and getting back his cool two million back while he's at it - with interest!

Bermuda Schwartz is by far the best of Bob Morris's mystery series thus far: Zach Chasteen is a strong and interesting protagonist whose wry humor and laid-back way of looking at life has never been more evident, enjoyable - and often laugh out loud hilarious. The complicated mystery he gets himself embroiled in is a slick, convincing and twisting riddle that leaves you guessing. Morris's thorough knowledge of his Caribbean setting and his crisp dialogue and pacing further enhance the story. There's also additional insight into Zack's love affair with the alluring Barbara - all of which make Bermuda Schwartz another crackling good mystery that's hard to put down.

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