When Hurricane Leo threatens Florida’s Camino Island, the Governor is quick to issue an evacuation order. Most residents flee but a small group of diehards decide to ride it out. Amongst them is Bruce Cable, proprietor of Bay Books in downtown Santa Rosa.
The hurricane is devastating: homes and condos are levelled, hotels and storefronts ruined, streets flooded, and a dozen people are killed. One of the victims is Nelson Kerr, a friend of Bruce’s who wrote timely political thrillers. But evidence suggests that the storm wasn’t the cause of Nelson’s death – he had received several mysterious blows to the head.
Who would want Nelson dead? The local police are overwhelmed with the aftermath of the storm and in no condition to handle the case. Bruce begins to wonder if the shady characters in Nelson’s novels were more fact than fiction. And somewhere on Nelson’s computer is the manuscript of his new novel – could the key to the case be right there, in black and white? Bruce starts to look into it and what he finds between the lines is more shocking than any of Nelson’s plot twists – and far more dangerous.
Seeing the sequel to Camino Island out in paperback, I decided to grab it despite my friend Maxine’s brutally honest assessment about her reading of it – “it’s shit” – when it first came out in hardback. This almost stopped me but curiosity is a powerful thing and I had just been paid.
It’s hard not to agree with Maxine’s assessment of the novel, and I won’t even bother trying. It was a big letdown, aside from the beginning which retained the feel of the first book with familiar characters and their bookish banter.
Camino Winds quickly gets rid of most of the established characters, and with them goes a lot of what made the first book so enjoyable; the talk of books, publishing, buying, and the opinions of other writers, that was bliss. There is a lot less of all of the above in Camino Winds, and the only noteworthy character addition was student Nick, who wasn’t particularly interesting or likeable.
Grisham chooses to write his characters in a very strange way, at one point a number of people show little interest in the recently discovered corpse of someone they know, which went a long way to diminishing my interest in them.
Some odd phrasings littered the text as well, these didn’t feel like natural speech, it was jarring. I found myself rereading some paragraphs wondering why certain lines hadn’t been cut before publication. The word chainsaw, written as chain saw stressed me out as well.
There were a lack of surprising plot twists, and the hurricane storyline could well have been left out altogether. I did find part of the book moderately interesting, especially as it was a beach read and so kept its pace up and allowed me to rush through it.
The one thing to take from the book, as the plot unfolded was the discovery of what the reason was for Nelson Kerr’s slaying which did have some interesting, if grim speculations, and so my reading wasn’t a total loss, and for that I am grateful.
I was forewarned about this book before going in but had to read this due to my enjoyment of Camino Island, it’s definitely a huge step down from the first book and I will be wary if there are further books in the series. This is one for completeists only.