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Literary Bahamas: Islands of Adventure and Romance

When vacationing in Freeport, Grand Bahama, there is plenty to do and see; you can pack your days with activity and have an adventure-filled trip. If, on the other hand, your idea of the perfect vacation is unwinding and curling up with a good book, you might enjoy a few titles with a Bahamas setting, allowing you to have a multi-level appreciation of both the book and your surroundings. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Seizure, by Robin Cook –This medical thriller centers around two men – Daniel Lowell, a brilliant researcher, and Ashley Butler, a powerful southern senator. Daniel and his girlfriend, Stephanie D’Agostino, are the cofounders of CURE, a medical research company – the existence of which relies heavily on biotechnology legislation that Butler is trying to block. However, he has an ulterior motive: he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease and wants Daniel to treat him using cloned cells. Daniel and Stephanie are taken aback, since their procedure has yet to get FDA approval, meaning they would have to do the surgery in another country. And they’re shocked to learn that Butler wants the cells taken not from a donor but from the infamous Shroud of Turin. He puts Daniel and Stephanie in contact with the unscrupulous doctors at the Wingate Clinic in Nassau. But before they can go to the Wingate to prepare for the procedure, Daniel and Stephanie must go to Turin, to retrieve a piece of the Shroud.
  • Bad Monkey, by Carl Hiaasen – Andrew Yancy – late of the Miami Police and soon-to-be-late of the Monroe County sheriff’s office – has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its shadowy owner. Yancy thinks the boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, the sheriff might rescue him from his grisly Health Inspector gig. But first, Yancy must negotiate an obstacle course of wildly unpredictable events with a crew of even more wildly unpredictable characters, including his just-ex lover, a hot-blooded fugitive from Kansas; the twitchy widow of the frozen arm; two avariciously optimistic real-estate speculators; the Bahamian voodoo witch known as the Dragon Queen, whose suitors are blinded unto death by her peculiar charms; Yancy’s new true love, a kinky coroner; and the eponymous bad monkey.
  • The Broken Anchor, by Carolyn Keene – Nancy receives an invitation to the Sweet Spring Resort on Anchor Island, in the Bahamas. Her father calls upon her assistance and she sends Bess and George down to Ancho Island to investigate why someone sent her (Nancy) plane tickets. Her father, Carson, is in Miami and is investigating an abandoned boat. They discover inside the boat are newspaper clippings of Nancy’s former investigations. This is the 70th volume in the “Nancy Drew Stories” series, and the PCadventure game, Ransom of the Seven Ships, is based on this book.
  • The Last One Left, by John D. MacDonald – A yacht explodes in the Bahamas, apparently killing six people and leaving its burned captain temporarily marooned on a small island. Sam Boyleston, an attorney from Texasand the brother of one of the victims, investigates the circumstances, as does Raoul Kelly, a newspaper reporter. As the plot develops it becomes apparent that one person is ruthlessly manipulating events, but proving guilt appears impossible. The book’s subtitle is “A story about money and dying,” and it is written on several different levels. Throughout the plot are subtle discourses on what it means to have a “good” life, how people deal with stress and uncertainty, and at what point will someone reach out for healthy human contact, or else take self-interest as their highest goal.
  • A Royal Murder, by Elliott Roosevelt – In September 1940, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (the author’s mother) is sent to the Bahamas, accompanied by intelligence agents impersonating her staff, to protect U.S. interests against the pro-German leanings of the new governor, the Duke of Windsor and his wife, Wallis Simpson. Eleanor deftly avoids curtseying to the duke and duchess, instead giving each a democratic smile and a handshake and finessing the duke’s wish that his wife be addressed as royalty. Life in Nassau resembles the last days of French royal court with a continuous round of parties occurring against a backdrop of dire poverty. During one lavish gathering on board a luxurious steam yacht, the owner, a pro-German Swedish industrialist, is thrown overboard to drown; in his pocket is found a platinum pin bearing the insignia of the Prince of Wales. Eleanor gets to ride a bike; Errol Flynn and one of his teenage floozies sail in on the yacht of isolationist GM chairman, Alfred P. Sloan; and a fatal explosion and a gunfight occur before the First Lady neatly wraps up the case.
  • Bahama Crisis, by Desmond Bagley – Tom Mangan is a wealthy white Bahamian, and owner/president of a company operating resort hotels, marinasand car rentalcompanies in the Bahamas. His business is successful and growing, and he has a beautiful wife and two children. Things could not be better. One day, he is visited by an old friend from his college days at the Harvard Business School, Billy Cunningham, and his beautiful younger cousin Debbie. The Cunninghams are owners of the Cunningham Corporation, a major conglomerate based inTexas. The Cunningham Corporation wants to invest heavily in developing the tourist industry in the Bahamas, and Mangan agrees to form a partnership with them. However, soon afterwards, disaster strikes. The yacht with Mangan’s wife and one of his daughters mysteriously disappears, and the body of his daughter washes up on a beach hundreds of miles from where the yacht should have been. A rash of mysterious events strike the tourist industry, ranging from an unprecedented labor dispute and riot, Legionnaire’s Disease striking the hotels, baggage carousels running amok at the airport, arson at an amusement center, and an oil slick from anoil tanker where it should not have been. As Mangan attempts to track down the murderer of his wife, he discovers that these seemingly unrelated events are all connected, and that the plot involves the future of the Bahamas itself as a nation.
  • Dollar in My Pocket, by Stephen Griffiths – In his second book set in the Bahamas, the author continues to relate his many experiences and adventures as a teacher on the island of Andros – the largest of the islands in the archipelago. Having spent his first year on Crooked Island, he is naturally a little apprehensive as to any new challenges he might encounter on Andros. Rich in character and written with warmth, it is a light-hearted story full of humor, pathos, insight and local mythology.
  • Bahamarama, by Bob Morris — Two years in a Florida federal prison on bogus charges has made former Miami Dophins linebacker, Zack Chasteen, stir crazy. The first step toward getting his life back together is meeting up with his beautiful magazine mogul girlfriend, Barbara, on Harbor Island in the Bahamas. But making it out of Florida proves to be more trouble than a gator with a toothache–and even deadlier. Zack barely leaves the state alive before he discovers Barbara’s been kidnapped and her ex-lover, a photographer, murdered. Once again trouble has come knocking on Zack’s door. But this time he’s fighting back, with the help of a Royal Bahamanian police superintendent, his trusted mystical Taino Indian friend Boggy, and a cast of the most colorful characters ever to step into the warm Bahama sun.
  • Island, by Richard Laymon – Structured as a series of journal entries made by Rupert, a young man who finds himself stranded on an island in the Bahamas (along with six other people) when their yacht mysteriously explodes. After an ax-wielding maniac claims the lives of two of the castaways, Rupert and the other survivors are forced to try and outwit the mysterious killer in order to save their lives. Since the concept of the novel is that Rupert is making his journal entries as events happen (with no knowledge as to how future developments in the “plot” will unfold), the reader is left uncertain as to whether any of the book’s characters, including Rupert himself, will survive. The novel plays with these expectations at several points, with Rupert’s life constantly being in danger right alongside those of his compatriots.

The Bahamas is also a popular setting for romance novels, including “Always,” by Iris Johansen; “Bold Breathless Love” by Valerie Sherwood; “Breaking All the Rules,” by Susan Vaughan; “Caribbean Splendor,” by Tracy L. Ranson; “Carerra’s Bride” and “Dangerous,” by Diana Palmer; “In Too Deep,” by Cherry Adair, “Pirate,” by Connie Mason; “Pirate’s Mistress,” by Marianne LaCroix; and “Traitor’s Kiss,” by Terri Valentine.

To start writing your own Bahamas story, or one set in any of our 40+ idyllic destinations, drop us a line at