Below is a book review I wrote back on February 20, 2006 for a now-defunct blog. It’s hard to believe this was nine years ago. In that time, Morris has written three additional books starring Zack Chasteen; “Bermuda Schwartz”, “A Deadly Silver Sea”, and “Baja Florida”, all of which I need to read…soon.
You may recall a little over a month ago I went to the downtown branch of the Orlando Public Library to meet and listen to Bob Morris, our own local celebrity author who used to write a column for The Orlando Sentinel and went on to write and serve as editor for several travel magazines. While there I bought both his novels (his first forays into fictional writing) to read and I finally got finished with the first, “Bahamarama.”
And I don’t say “finally” like it was a difficult book to read; quite the contrary, the story and pacing made it a book I did not want to put down. For me it has been a matter of time and a schedule so full that I haven’t even had time to put up the 2006 calendar I received as a Christmas gift yet. No joke, it’s sitting in a corner of my living room with the plastic skinwrap still around it and here it is almost the end of February. So my “pleasure reading” time has been relegated to bedtime, where I crawl into bed, open the book and read for maybe 10 minutes before my eyes rebel by closing and I place the bookmark where I left off and turn off the nightstand lamp.
“Bahamarama” introduces us to the book’s central character (as well as that of the second novel, “Jamaica Me Dead“) Zack Chasteen, a former strong safety for the Miami Dolphins who is just getting out of the Federal Penitentiary in the panhandle after serving 2 years for a crime he did not commit. Everyone but his girlfriend and closest friends still think he is guilty of the crime, his boat was seized by the government and auctioned off and it looks like he is going to have to sell the house that has been in his family for generations to have some money while he looks for a job. But his first plan is to join his girlfriend in the Bahamas where she is on a photo shoot for the magazine she publishes. Before he can meet up with her, his girlfriend is kidnapped and held for ransom and her ex-boyfriend is murdered, forcing Zack to enlist the aid of his best friend and a local police inspector as he attempts to solve the murder mystery and rescue his girlfriend before the kidnappers kill her. The icing on the cake is that the criminals who originally got him in trouble with the law are chasing him down as well, claiming he has something of theirs that they want back.
The story is fast-paced and loaded with action, mystery and a colorful cast of characters that bring excitement and diversity to every page of the book. One of the best things is that Morris, being a native Floridian, brings a certain realism and knowledge to the story that other natives (like myself) or even long-time residents of our fair state can appreciate and relate to when reading. And as a frequent visitor to the Caribbean, he can authoritatively write about that setting in his stories as well.
With breakneck speed and pacing, Morris takes us on a rollercoaster ride of a story as we try to solve the murder mystery along with Chasteen and wonder if he’ll rescue his girlfriend in time or ever clear his name. If you haven’t read it yet, this is a great book to take to the beach this summer, where you can soak up the sun, sand and sea atmosphere of the story while doing the same thing in reality.
“Bahamarama” is out in paperback now and available at local bookstores as well as online.