Boise Montague’s life in Los Angeles has fallen apart. After his wife dies, he returns to the tiny island where he grew up. Unfortunately, coming home doesn’t bring him the peace he’s looking for. Things have changed drastically since his last visit. The island has moved on and so have the people he once knew. When Boise tries to find the one friend he thinks he can count on to be there for him, he’s confronted with another death. A murder. A murder that the police did not think important enough to investigate thoroughly. Boise wants answers. He enlists a local reporter named Dana, who has theories of her own, to help him dig deeper. With not much left to lose, a bone to pick with the justice system, and a relentless partner, Boise sets out to do what the police would not: solve the murder of Jeffrey Black. The island of St. Thomas is a gleaming tropical paradise. Welcome to the Caribbean, where murder is as common as sunshine.
I would like to welcome Gene Desrochers to booksaremycwtches today with an extract from his novel Dark Paradise. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey for inviting me into the blog tour.
This excerpt establishes Boise’s new digs at a guesthouse in St. Thomas. He meets the proprietors of guesthouse.
The sun shone bright in my eyes as I pulled my rolling luggage along behind and flung my puke-green duffle bag over my shoulder. Like a battering ram, my bag banged against the shoulders of tourists who wandered in and out of glittering shops, faces turned up, oblivious to everything without a duty-free sign on it.
Thirty-six steps made of brick and concrete over arched openings used for storage in colonial times got me to the entrance. In my youth, I’d played hide-and-seek inside those same passages. They still smelled of bums who slept there at night.
A glorious, Spanish-era wrought-iron chandelier hung overhead as I stood in what I supposed was the lobby of the West Indian Manner. An ice machine hummed behind the counter to the right as I rang the welcome bell.
“Hello.” A copper-skinned woman with petite breasts called out from the bottom of the steps leading to the second floor. She sauntered around the counter like a mermaid gliding through water. “I help you?”
“Yes. You have any rooms?”
“How long you visitin’ for?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “How about indefinitely, depending on the price? Do you have a monthly rate?”
“We have rooms rented out by da week. I’s one-fifty a week. We give new linen and sheets a week. If you wan’ twice a week service, add twenty-five. We need a deposit of t’ree hundred.”
She turned around to get a key off its hook. I leaned over the counter to glance at the ledger. There weren’t many names on it.
“I don’ know if I can afford dat,” I said.
“I used to live up behin’ here. Da house gone now,” I said.
“I could give you a local discount. One-twenty-five wid two times a week service.”
She called out, “Marge, we got a cust-a-ma.” She turned back to me. “I Lucy. Marge and me a couple, you know, lesbian. You okay wid dat?”
“Yeah, no problem,” I said as a burly woman in a muumuu appeared.
Lucy glanced at my check-in slip. “Show Mr. Montague to room eighteen. Come down for a drink lata, Mista Montague, my treat.”
She opened the door next to the check-in booth, revealing a large, mahogany bar. Three customers hunched over amber-colored beverages in the dark room.
“T’anks, I will,” I muttered.
Marge barely glanced at me. No wonder Lucy greeted and closed the sale before Marge appeared. Lucy accepted a hundred and twenty-five dollars, plus the deposit, from me.
I trudged up another sixteen stairs after Marge.
We walked in silence. It seemed Marge wasn’t particularly keen on speech. Later I learned that she wasn’t mute, but had an abiding belief in making noise only when absolutely necessary. When she made noise, you listened.
Marge flipped on the ceiling fan and left. I dropped my bag on the shag carpet. A window looked out on the town below. I felt safe in this Spartan room for the first time since I’d discovered Roger was gone, I felt safe. Light-colored stains dotted the beige carpet. Paneled faux wood adorned the walls–a throw-back to the seventies.
I tried not to think about my tiny, vanished, seventies house. Every time I turned around, my hopes for signs of my old life were dashed like ships on a reef.
I pried open the splintering wooden louvers. Lazy palm fronds swayed in the yard below. I laid back on the golden sheets and fell into a dreamless sleep.
About the author
Gene Desrochers hails from a dot in the Caribbean Sea called St. Thomas. He grew up with minimal supervision and free-roaming animals in a guesthouse that also served as a hospital during wartime. He has spent his life steadily migrating west, and now finds himself in Los Angeles with a beautiful wife, cats, and kids. After a lifetime of writing and telling short stories, he ventured into the deep end, publishing his first novel, Dark Paradise in 2018. If you ask, he will regale you with his Caribbean accent and tennis prowess.