White Bahamian Tom Mangan has an idyllic life – a truly happy marriage, two radiant daughters, and a successful hotel group in a growing tourist market. When Billy Cunningham, a friend from Harvard Business School and one of the Texan Cunninghams, comes to visit, it looks as though Tom’s career dreams are truly reaching fruition. But then a routine trip to visit her parents in Miami turns everything upside down when Tom’s wife Julie and older daughter Sue fail to arrive. Tom knows the boat was sound, and he has total confidence in skipper Pete Albury but, though the sea was clam and there have been no reports of accidents, he knows something terrible’s happened. Then Sue’s body’s found in shallow water, half way to the States.
Motivated by the needs of his younger daughter, Karen, Tom throws himself back into work, but the loss of Lucayan Girl and half his family is only the beginning – the Bahaman tourism industry is beset with crisis after crisis, from a devastating outbreak of the newly-discovered Legionella to hotel fires, street riots and rumours of political unrest. When Billy’s cousin Debbie brings him photos developed from film Sue took on the day of the accident he discovers a picture of the unknown crewman Pete hired for the trip. And when he’s identified, still alive when all others perished, Tom knows it was more than just an accident.
Bahama Crisis is tautly plotted and beautifully written. It’s so difficult for me to convey, especially as I’ve tried before, the satisfying and absorbing quality of Bagley’s writing, and his ability to reuse common elements from book to book without repetition or dullness. But, like an inspired chef with flour, eggs and butter, he combines flawed but strong male protagonists and spirited heroines with varied locales, action and romance into something new every time. Bagley manages to describe enough detail for clarity without bogging the reader down with unnecessary detail, and uses sparingly deft touches to convey what must be thoroughly researched information. Almost all the books are written in the first person, and yet each hero has a clear and distinct voice as well as persona. I’m rationing myself as I make my way through the complete works, but after each disappointing foray into another writer I find myself drawn to that which is proven and brilliant. In other words, Bagley. - Alex