Today I have an intriguing guest post from the lovely Jean Harrod author of Deadly Deceit, which was first published in June 2016. Unfortunately this is another book that I haven’t been able to read yet, as my TBR reaches an all time high, but it’s certainly one I will read at some point. if you like pacey thrillers that keep you awake and turning the page at night, and yet are evocative of the location in which they are set, then I’m sure you will enjoy Deadly Deceit.
I spent more than 20 years living and working overseas as a British diplomat. That’s why I’ve based my Jess Turner crime thriller series in locations all over the world. Each novel is set in a different country, and can be read as a standalone. While the plots are all different, the central characters (Jess Turner and DI Tom Sangster) run through the series.
My novels are fast-paced crime thrillers that are plot driven. But the locations in which I set them are crucial to the story too. My first novel, Deadly Diplomacy, was set in Australia. My latest novel, Deadly Deceit, is set in the exotic Caribbean, in the little known British Overseas Territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands, where I worked in the Governor’s Office for a couple of years. These stunning coral islands lay out in the Atlantic, due south of the Bahamas, and about an hour and a half’s flight south-east from Miami. They are literally flattened mountain summits poking up out of the sea, with stunning white coral beaches and turquoise lagoons. The administrative capital, Grand Turk, lies on the eastern edge of the chain. Just a few hundred yards offshore, the sea plunges to a depth of 7000 feet. It’s like falling down a mountain, and is a renowned scuba diving site.
With the third largest coral reef system in the world encircling these islands, it’s little wonder they are known as a land of shipwrecks, pirates, slaves, and treasure. The northwest reef is infamous in local history, and features prominently in my novel. Today, the islands are populated by descendants of the African slaves who survived those shipwrecks.
Just 90 kms away is Haiti, one of the poorest and most populous countries in the world (8 million). The age old problem of wooden sloops bringing boatloads of illegal migrants across shark infested seas to the Turks and Caicos could end in tragedy as I witnessed one night. 60 people, mostly women and children who were below deck, drowned when a sloop sank in stormy seas. The Police patrol boats could save only a few men who were on deck in those wild seas, so it was more a recovery exercise at first light. I shall never forget the sight of those poor souls laid out in the morgue. It haunts me still. Perhaps I am purging ghosts in this novel?
I also wondered at the time just how far a small population as in the Turks and Caicos (less than 50,000 people) would go to stop their country being overrun by a larger neighbour like Haiti. My thoughts got darker, and thus the plot for Deadly Deceit was conceived.
Coupled with that was my fascination for Haitian voodoo, which the migrants brought with them. It was created by African slaves who were brought to Haiti in the 16th century. It merges their traditional tribal practices and beliefs with Roman Catholicism, which they were forced to convert to by their slavers. We’ve all seen the James Bond movie with sorcerers sticking pins in poppet dolls, and creating zombies. I just had to explore this in my novel too. But voodoo could be a whole separate post on its own.
The jacket for this novel shows nothing but sea, and drowning hands. I’m pleased about that because I wanted readers not only to see the ocean through my words, but feel, hear, and smell it everywhere too. For that’s what it’s like to live on these islands. The sea is fundamental to life itself. I want readers to witness the eye-watering beauty of the myriad shades of blue in calm seas, and the sheer terror of its power during a hurricane. I want readers to feel the hot sun, the uncomfortable humidity, the pesky mosquitoes, as well as sand in their shoes and everywhere else.
So, if you like pacey thrillers that keep you awake and turning the page at night, and yet are evocative of the location in which they are set, then I hope Deadly Deceit is for you.
About the author
Born and educated in the UK, Jean was employed as a British diplomat for many years, working in Embassies and High Commissions in Australia, Brussels, the Caribbean, China, East Berlin, Indonesia, Mauritius, and Switzerland. She has travelled extensively around the world and writes about all the countries she has lived in, or visited.
‘Deadly Diplomacy’, set in Australia, was her debut diplomatic crime novel, and the first of a series featuring diplomat Jess Turner and DI Tom Sangster.
‘Deadly Deceit’, set in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Caribbean, is the second in the series.
Jean now lives in North Yorkshire. An active contributor to regional theatre, she has written and staged several plays.
British diplomat Jess Turner is on temporary assignment in the Governor’s Office of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Caribbean. The coral sands and turquoise seas are stunning, but things are not what they seem. The locals are upset about boatloads of illegal migrants arriving from nearby Haiti on their shores, and fearful of the voodoo they bring. Tensions are running high.
When the Governor is critically injured in a car crash, and a brutal murder occurs, Jess is left reeling. What she starts to uncover sends shockwaves through the corridors of power back in London.
DI Ton Sangster is investigating criminal gangs smuggling migrants to Australia. While in Miami for talks with US officials on this global problem, he sees Jess passing through the airport. He visits her in the TCI to find out how the British Government deals with the migrant problem in their Overseas Territory. Soon, they are working together to uncover the TCI’s dark and disturbing secrets.
But a hurricane is approaching and, as with each revelation they get closer to the truth, they end up fighting for their own lives.
“Terrific … a rip-roaring sequel to Deadly Diplomacy. Jean Harrod is the Agatha Christie of the contemporary diplomatic world.” Alastair Goodlad, former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
“What a corker of a book! Found myself sucked in right from the start, totally grabbing me. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, and it kept me guessing until the end.” Shell Baker, Crime Book Club