Note: No matter the author, no matter the title, I always acquire books out of my own resources. Review copies are verboten on this blog, and that goes double for ISLF friends—which Eric Douglas most certainly is.
The term “beach read” sometimes carries a pejorative connotation in fiction circles, which is really a shame. There’s nothing wrong with a novel that puts enjoyment on a pedestal, and that’s exactly what Eric Douglas does with Return to Cayman, the sixth installment in his Mike Scott series. A journalist with a yen for adventure that would do Indiana Jones proud, Scott has a way of landing in trouble as much as reporting on it. It’s been years since he returned to his one-time home of Grand Cayman, and this time he has no plans but to party. Old chum Kelly has been married to Tanya, the girl of his dreams, for a decade. Mike has come to this island paradise with a bunch of friends to help them celebrate and to dive the surrounding reefs. But the proceedings take a dark turn when an anchoring mishap with a cruise liner obliterates a stretch of protected coral, nearly killing Mike and Kelly in the process. Something sinister is afoot on Grand Cayman, a cyber plot that will soon ensnare the entire island in a global conspiracy.
If you tossed a shot of Carl Hiaasen’s eco-consciousness into a tall tumbler of Clive Cussler’s action, it would taste a lot like Return to Cayman. After a slightly slow start (which will feel more like a reunion for those who have read any of the earlier Mike Scott books), Douglas kicks the proceedings into high gear. There are gun-toting paramilitary thugs, secret surveillance drones, improvised explosive devices, and lots of near-drowning incidents. The diving bits—of which there are many—are the best parts, but even readers who’ve never donned a scuba mask will find the proceedings enjoyable. Much like Andrew Klavan did in The Identity Man, Douglas pens archetypal characters then shoves them right in danger’s way. Not all is perfect, though. The extremities of the main villain’s narcissistic evil strains credibility, and the ending resolves itself too quickly to really satisfy. Still, Cayman contains plenty of breezy, beachy fun.
(Picture: CC 2010 by Max Elman)