Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pg. 69 & Pg. 99: Bob Morris's "Bermuda Schwartz"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test --where the author put the Page 69 Test to his novel as well -- is Bob Morris's Bermuda Schwartz.

About the book, from the author's website:

A young scuba guide, scouting new dive sites in the shipwreck-laden reefs that rim Bermuda, makes a fatal discovery: Below these waters lies a treasure more valuable than gold or jewels. And some people are willing to kill for it.

Enter Zack Chasteen, knockabout palm-tree farmer, and his inscrutable Taino associate, Boggy, who have been dragged to Bermuda by Zack's ladylove, Barbara Pickering. She needs their help throwing a gala 70th birthday party for her wealthy and eccentric Aunt Trula. While there, Zack drops by the bank to visit his money, a couple of million dollars earned in recent exploits that Zack had stashed away in one of the country's notorious tax-free offshore accounts. Big problem: Zack's money is gone and his bankers can't seem to explain where it is or who might have it.

Zack is grappling with another issue: Where is this whole thing going with him and Barbara Pickering? She's not pressing, but it's clear she'd like to tie the knot, maybe start a family. Is Zack really ready to say, "I do?" As he wrestles with the twin dilemmas of love and money, both of which may wind up lost, Zack falls in with wise and wily Teddy Schwartz, a legendary Bermudan treasure salvager and one of Aunt Trula's longtime paramours. Schwartz is harboring a few secrets of his own, and Zack is soon crossing paths with a secret sect of religious zealots who are hoping to complete a bloody and tumultuous 2,000-year-old quest.

Among the praise for Bermuda Schwartz:

"Comic crime novels are exceedingly difficult to pull off, especially as the inevitable Leonard/Hiaasen comparisons set up expectations that disappoint -- and that's before reader tastes about humor kick in. But Morris gets things very right in his third novel, which marks the return of football hero-turned-adventurer Zach Chasteen."
--Sarah Weinman, Baltimore Sun

"[T]here's a ripping good yarn here, and that will be plenty for those who liked Zack's earlier adventures, Bahamarama (2004) and Jamaica Me Dead (2005)."

--David J. Montgomery

"One spends a lot of time laughing when reading one of Morris's books. Zach and Boggy need to transplant 8 enormous palm trees to an estate in Bermuda and they get involved in the murders of divers looking for historic relics in shipwrecks. Money laundering and the illegal sale of found treasures add to the mystery. The characters are not only fun but described in a way that makes them seem real. If you haven't read a Zach Chasteen mystery, you need to start now!"
--Susan Wasson
A freelance writer and editor, Bob Morris travels widely and contributes to a number of publications, including National Geographic Traveler, Bon Appetit, Islands, Robb Report, Latitudes and Men's Fitness. These travels have inspired his series of mystery novels, each of which takes place on a different Caribbean island. The first one, Bahamarama, was a finalist for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Mystery Novel and chosen by the Library Journal as one the year’s Top Five Mysteries. His second novel, Jamaica Me Dead, was a BookSense Pick by the American Booksellers Association.

Read more about Bermuda Schwartz, including an excerpt, at Bob Morris's website; visit Morris's blog, Surrounded on Three Sides.

The Page 99 Test: Bermuda Schwartz.

--Marshal Zeringue