The Origin Of Murder
By Jerold Last
While vacationing in the Galapagos Islands, private investigator Roger Bowman and his professor wife become engaged in a murder mystery when a dead body is found floating of one of the islands. With a ship full of passengers, there’s no end to the suspects. Naval officers with suspicious stories? San Francisco sisters who are more intelligent than they act? An over friendly tour guide? Then, two more bodies are discovered, with the same M.O. Who’s safe? Are the murders related to drugs? Illegal fishing? And just what connection might there be to a previous murder occurring a week before the Bowmans arrived?
Murders in foreign lands always give me pause. But this one sounded exotic enough to try. I like the remote location. Different from the typical estate in the country. Stuck on a ship in the islands brings a new angle to a mystery.
Roger Bowman: 6’2”, 190 pounds, married with son, private investigator, owns two dogs, fluent in Spanish, former detective with the LAPD, kows martial arts
Barbara Kaufman: speaks Spanish, has a sister, studied at the U. of California-Berkley, lives in San Francisco, works at a publishing house, dark hair, brown eyes, pretty
Suzanne: Roger’s wife, biochemistry professor at UCLA, father dead, inherited wealth, 5’8”, athletic, long blonde hair, fluent in Spanish
Bruce: 5’7”, nanny for the Bowman’s son, former navy SEAL, homosexual
Raul Vonhorst: early 30s, handsome, knows many languages, lives in Quito, tour guide
Vincente Aleman: Brigadier General in the Ecudorian Air Force
Michael Smart: recently married, lives on a Naval base, Lt. Commander
Linda Smart: Michael’s wife
A nice variety of characters. A world-wide cast. You learn bits and pieces about each as the story progresses. One problem I had was that Suzanne and Bruce were too prevalent. Roger’s the PI and former homicide detective, yet his wife plays logician in discussing the murders and Bruce does the snooping. I wanted more of Roger’s knowledge and investigative abilities shown. Instead, he’s relegated to an almost second tier character.
Lengthy, lecture type conversations when dealing with historical details. Interesting, but run on and needed to be broken up into shorter paragraphs. When these lectures occur, there are no distinction of character voices. Everybody sounded like a museum guide. Even a lot of the normal conversations weren’t natural but rather more like an information dump. Too wordy and explanatory. There was a discussion between Roger and Aleman that sounded more like an interview than a chat. Also, in some of the conversations, facts or information were given which had been previously given or known.
Titled chapters with quotes from Darwin. First person from Roger’s POV. There wass a lot of switching tenses. This is just an example, not an actual pair of sentences from the book: I walked into town. The town is big.
There was a LOT of information overload. A plethora of factoids about the Galapagos and Ecuador and though I like a bit of history and education in my mysteries and adventures, this was was like wading through an encyclopedia with a bit of murder thrown in to break up the lectures. Most of it had nothing to do with the plot or moving the story forward. Even the information regarding the suspects came in chunks that nobody would divulge so freely at one time, or at last in that manner. A couple of punctuation errors, but nothing distracting. No profanity. There is too much build up time to the climax. Way too much unnecessary information (with more factoids) and discussion regarding the mission Bruce takes to get needed evidence.