Thursday, April 12, 2012

Diane Rapp took me on a cruise! She'll take you- if you dare! Murder Caribbean Style

I read this book twice!   I was enchanted by this story from the first page.   It brought back memories of my favorite mystery books, like the Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew Series.  But this is much more refined and sophisticated.

 The Heroine, Kayla is a lovely, young travel guide writer who returns to her former place of  employment- as a celebrity.  Who has not dreamed of doing that? 
 Her former place of employment just happens to be a cruise ship in the Caribbean.  It would be fabulous- but Kayla is mending a broken heart.   You feel her pain and you hate the scoundrel who caused it.  You form strong opinions about the characters and when there is a murder- well – he had it coming!

Kayla travels through the Caribbean doing research for her book and some detective work.   The author brings you to the scenes with such detail; you are enveloped in the exotic locale.  As you explore the islands, inhaling the perfume of the tropical flowers, you learn of Caribbean history and geography.  You vow to return one day-in person.

Is Kayla a murderer?  Will she ever find true love?  You’ll have to read the book to find out : )

Interview with Diane Rapp

K:  I was just delighted with Murder Caribbean Style.  It reminded me of a very sophisticated, grown up sort of Nancy Drew mystery.  Where did you get your inspiration?

D: My daughter, Laura and I wrote a travel guide to the Caribbean islands.  After we finished Laura planned to write a mystery using the islands as a backdrop, but she hated writing fiction.  She gave the idea to me.  With the islands fresh on my mind, I started the arduous task of planning a mystery.  Since I incorporated various cruise ships into the plot, I drew up a schedule for the imaginary ships to land on each island.  What a headache.    

K: The amazing detail of all of the islands and your vivid descriptions made me want to visit those islands!  Seriously- I am now planning our vacation to one of the destinations in the book.  How did you become so knowledgeable about the Caribbean?

Laura and I spent three months visiting eleven Caribbean islands to research our travel guide.  A factual guidebook can’t use space to capture the beauty and atmosphere of the islands, so I used the mystery format to illustrate the ambience of real tropical locations.  

K:  As a writer, I really admire when an author is able to show, rather than tell.  Have you worked on your writing technique or does it come naturally to you?

Thanks for the compliment.   The technique is not a natural skill.  I visualize scenes as though I was watching a movie, and then I write and rewrite until my fingers ache.   When I get stuck, I reread a book by one of my favorite authors and analyze how the author created flowing prose.  Have you ever read West With the Night by Beryl Markum?  Her descriptions of Africa make me envious!

K:  No I haven’t – but I will!
I only do reviews for books that I really enjoyed.  This is a book that would make a great movie.  I could see Drew Barrymore playing Kayla.  Have you thought about that?

My heart flutters to imagine Murder Caribbean-Style on the silver screen.  I’m part of the first generation that grew up watching television and movies.   My heroine “casts” people in her own private movie, and I hoped this mechanism might help readers visualize the characters.   

K: This is becoming a signature move for me: I’d like to do a fun exercise with you.  I will give you a scene and I would love for you to write it in your alluring style : )

Our hostess, Jill, opened the door.

I felt like someone punched me in the stomach.  It was a tiny, dingy little apartment.  Our bedroom, with two tiny cot-like beds was so small that we could not lay our luggage on the floor- it had to stay upright.   The bed linens were threadbare.  There was no air conditioning.   Jill warned us that there were no screens on the windows so if we opened them for air at night, we would be eaten alive by mosquitoes.  This was especially disgusting for Tara, because there are no mosquitoes in Ireland and she liked it that way.

This was not the luxurious villa that we had looked forward to.   Without speaking Tara and I looked at each other and new we had to find a way out.


The hinge squeaked as the hotel clerk, Jill jerked on the rusty door handle.

We shoved our luggage against the wall and squeezed into the closet masquerading as a bedroom.  Tara frowned at the threadbare sheets and stained pillowcases on the twin beds, while I jiggled the thermostat, praying for a refreshing blast of cool air.  A pitiful trickle of stale air coughed into my face and the musty smell turned my stomach.   

I glanced hopefully at the dirty windows. Jill said, “Better not open the windows, since we don’t have screens.  The mosquitoes will feast on your pale Irish skin all night and cats might come inside.  Here’s your key.”  What happened to the tropical vacation villa pictured on the Internet?   

Tara turned to me with panic in her eyes, and I knew we couldn’t spend one night in this dump. Would my credit limit accept another charge?  How could we find a decent room during peak tourist season?

K: That is incredible- magical!  The scene was based on a real life experience I had with my cousin.  You really nailed it- I felt like I was back in that hellish room : )

I look forward to reading your other books. Thank you so much.

You can find Diane’s books here        

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Find Diane’s website here    

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