Review: No Virgin Island (A Sabrina Salter Mystery #1) by C. Michele Dorsey
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Crooked Lane Books. Thank you!
Publication: August 11, 2015 by Crooked Lane Books
In this sun-soaked mystery set in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Sabrina Salter traded a high-pressure job as a Boston meteorologist for life as an innkeeper on St. John. But storm clouds roll in when Sabrina finds Carter Johnson, her most attractive guest, tucked up in a hammock way past check-out time… and he’s not just dead to the world, he’s just plain dead, with a bullet hole in his chest.
This isn’t the first time Sabrina has seen a dead body, and the island police are well aware of that. Thanks to her checkered history, not to mention the fact that she was the last person who saw Carter alive and far from entirely clothed, she finds herself marked as the prime suspect.
The Virgin Islands may be the sort of place where even defense attorneys wear flip-flops, but the laid-back life is over for Sabrina unless she can clear her name. So, she sets out to solve the crime, only to find herself caught in a tidal wave of adultery, kidnapping, identity fraud and murder in No Virgin Island, C. Michele Dorsey’s outstanding mystery debut.
If you are looking for a mystery title perfect for summer and/or holiday reading, No Virgin Island may be just the ticket. Imagine, if you will, a mystery novel full of guest starring secondary characters, a slightly remote yet beautiful location, multiple possible suspects and main characters with legal secrets and heartache to spare. Reading like a reliably comfortable episode of Murder, She Wrote, (which I watched and loved!) C. Michele Dorsey’s debut is lighter, escapist murder-mystery fun.
When we meet protagonist Sabrina Salter on idyllic St. John, she (as co-owner of gorgeous rental villas) is on rounds to get one villa ready for the next set of guests. But when she gets to Villa Mascarpone, she finds their guest Carter Johnson dead from a gunshot wound. We soon find that the island police are immediately suspicious of Sabrina’s involvement in Carter’s death- but why?
Slowly but surely we learn major pockets of Sabrina’s history- and recent drama with the legal and media system in the States- and why she’s moved to St. John to start fresh. With a rather large rotating cast of (often less-defined) secondary characters, I would have welcomed more time spent on particular characters- especially on Sabrina, her Villas co-owner and friend Henry, and enigmatic lawyer-turned bar owner Neil Perry. It looks as though there are plans for more Sabrina Salter mysteries, so I am keen to read further novels and see if Dorsey delves more into the main characters’ back stories and if or how she builds the budding relationship between Sabrina and Neil. I was really intrigued by Sabrina’s headline-news-making arrest and past and think that a novel that would return Sabrina (and Neil) to the States might be something potentially very interesting to follow!
Overall, No Virgin Island is well-done, lighter mystery fare. While most characters are, as noted above, moderately developed, and the mystery of Carter’s death is itself relatively uncomplicated, Dorsey’s debut is an altogether enjoyable, page-turning story that sets itself up well for future escapades. I see the potential for more mystery titles in this series; though the locales and characters may need to evolve or expand to give the novels more room to breathe and experiment. No Virgin Island is a solidly done mystery, perfect for curling up with over the weekend or when you need a cozy mystery to lose yourself in.
I received a copy of this book from Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.