Bone Island Mambo

One of my goals in 2019 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

I picked up Bone Island Mambo by Tom Corcoran at the Wall Library Book Sale, which is held twice a year.


I had no idea what I was getting into when I selected this book. I knew I liked the cover, and I knew I have an affinity for noirs set in Florida. I only found out this was the third in a series when I started writing this review.

Alex Rutledge is a freelance photographer, ex navy officer, a Key West transplant of 25 years, and, it would seem, a magnet for trouble. While innocently taking pictures of the island’s rapidly growing and changing commercial landscape, Alex is attacked and run off the scene. Only hours later a body is discovered at the exact spot. Was he being distracted so he would not see anything he shouldn’t? Was he being implicated? Why and how does he always end up in the middle of things?

The author clearly loves Key West, has an extensive knowledge of photography, motorcycles, cars, and other techy interests which he sprinkles throughout this (and I imagine other) Alex Rutledge novels. Unfortunately, his expertise, such as it is, takes precident over the the actual plot of this novel. He seems to care more about constructing a self aggrandizing fantasy than making a readable approachable book. I find this a common problem in many modern mystery novels. Write what you know is the old saying, but some many writers take it as permission to create a perfect version of themselves; perfectly attractive to the opposite sex, all knowing, devilishly clever and witty, endless stamina. This seems to be what Corcoran is more interested in writing about. Although, the action in this book is compelling, little of it adds up to solving the mystery, and all of the clues feel a bit thin. Bone Island Mambo has some interesting characters, even the seemingly ineffable, perfectly smart and shockingly talented Alex. I may read another in the series, but bc of the many holes in this novel I can’t say I would recommend it.

Do you have a novel you’ve read but haven’t liked? Do you have a least favorite detective?