Book Critique - Hurricane Bay

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: A good book to pick on those sunny days when your mind wants some interesting mystery to solve and at the same have the feeling of romance whirling through it.

Hurricane Bay is a stand-alone by Heather Graham published in 2002. The central plot revolves around Private Investigator Dale Whitelaw and his childhood friend Kelsey Cunningham who team up together to find out what happened to their missing friend Sheila Warren

Dale Whitelaw discovers that someone has kidnapped and murdered his former lover Sheila Warren and is framing him for the same. Kelsey Cunningham, best friend of Sheila, comes to town to Key Largo to meet her friend Sheila only to find her missing. She launches her own investigation and asking questions around. Everyone seems to think that Sheila would come back just like always after disappearing for a few weeks. And Dane wants to speed his investigation faster and find who is framing him lest she finds the framed truth and he gets convicted. Thus follows the cat and mouse chase for both Dale and Kelsey to find the truth and about what happened to Sheila.

A seemingly interesting meeting of childhood friends who make it a sort of reunion turns into a missing persons / murder investigation. Each of them have their share of baggage that they try to either forget or hide it from others to spend a few days in pure fun. The entire scenario set by Heather Graham reminded me of my meeting with my childhood friends. However the addition of murder added a chill at the base of my spine while reading the plot.

I have read very few books that are set in the state of Florida. So the location had made it interesting for me in the plot considering I was an avid watcher of CSI: Miami and reruns of Miami Vice.

Although Dale and Kelsey form the lead characters and their friends form the much needed supporting roles, the plot really centers on Sheila. Every page we turn, or every conversation we read or every scene set by Heather Graham revolves around Sheila making her the central character. She has but a live action role in the first chapter of the book and the rest of the chapters she is just a background role, more reflected on from a third person's perspective. 

Although the plot is strong with excellent placement of characters, there is a lot of repeating para phrasing; more of repeat conversations to keep explaining the same again and again as a new character enters the scene. Perhaps that is what happens when there are many people involved. It was getting tiring to read that repeat stuff but all in all the plot is strong and keeps the reader interested.

Another thing that bothered me about the plot was that the character Kelsey refuses to believe anything Dale says about his relationship with Sheila but readily accepts everything anyone says about it. And yet she is the one who initiates a relationship with him. It was not clear when she started trusting him in the plot but if I was Dale it would be really hard for me to forgive someone who blames me. But again Dale is man so perhaps he was thinking from his brain below the belt..he he.

Being the plot set in Key Largo and Hurricane Bay, I did expect Heather Graham to include the weather elements into her plot; more precisely hurricanes. True to that she brings in history of Hurricane Andrew and current Hurricane Hannah that was going to attack the area in 2002.

All in all another decent suspense thriller without chilling your bones too much and the same time keeping you entertained.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Plot Reveals:

a. The group of friends all tied to Sheila other than Dale and Kelsey are: Larry Miller - Sheila's ex-husband; Nate Curry- owner of Sea Shanty and Kelsey's ex-husband; Cindy Greeley; Jorge Marti; 

b. Heather Graham brings Dale's past in St. Augustine very frequently which made me think that perhaps that was part of some other book of hers that had more of Dale Whitelaw. But to my disappointment or pleasure she reveals his past in this very same book. I guess I am very used to reading sequels or series of books that I look for clues that might hint towards a previous book or a future book.

c. Heather Graham has her character Dale musing about being as rich as Croesus. And I wondered who that was cause I couldn’t attest the name to any famous millionaire or billionaire of recent times. Then I find out on google that he was the richest ancient Greek who was living during the time 595 BC - 546 BC. How silly of me to search for this person in recent times. More about Croesus here.

d. During the plot when Dale and his cop friends discuss the murders, Heather Graham inserts two cases about two different serial killers - one being about serial killer killing prostitutes on Eighth Street; second being about another serial killer who was killing working girls, cutting them up and stuffing them in suitcases. I wonder if these were plots for some of Heather Graham's earlier books. I can only guess until I read all of her books.

e. Heather Graham compares one of the detectives from Miami-Dade police force to Frito Bandito and I wondered who was that. Turns out he was a cartoon character for Frito Chips from 1967 to 1971. More about him here.

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