Friday, June 25, 2010

Merryll Manning Series

John Howard Reid

Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island

The first of a series of mystery thrillers, featuring Police Sergeant Merryll Manning of the Paradise Police Department. (Paradise is the author's fictional capital city of Florida, and is not based on Miami). The action takes place on an otherwise deserted island in the Florida Keys, where a number of guests assemble in an old Dominican Priory for a "mystery weekend". 

My Take: 
Trapped on Mystery Island took a while to get going, but once the story got rolling, it wasn't bad.  If you've ever seen the movie Clue with Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd and Madeline Khan, you will have an idea of the vibe of this book, it's sort of a Clue meets And Then There Were None.  There are a lot of characters, none of which are honest, and it was a bit tough to keep them all straight between their aliases and who are in cahoots, etc.  At the beginning, I didn't find the main characters, Merryll and Susan, to be very engaging or likable, but I think by the end, Merryll Manning was a character that you root for, even if you don't particularly like him.  The action was slow to start, as I said before, and it was dry for about 100 pages.  After the first real murder on the island, the action really picked up and was quite a page turner until the end.  Trapped on Mystery Island was not the most original whodunit I've ever read, but it is definitely worth a peek.  It had a very retro vibe to it, as it seemed to take it's time, rather than hitting you over the head with mystery on the first page, sort of like old black and white movies, but it didn't quite have that snappy dialogue that usually accompanies such a movie.  Overall, I rate Trapped on Mystery Island a 4, Borrow from a Friend.  If you are in the mood for a relaxing mystery, this is a book for you.

Do you agree with my review?  Do you think I'm totally off base?  Either way I'd love to hear from you, be sure to leave a comment and tell me how you feel!

If this book were a movie, it would likely be rated PG-13 for strong language, some sexuality, and violence

A few words with the author, John Howard Reid:

The Book Buff: Why did you begin writing?

John Howard Reid: I was the Chief Editor for...Rastar Press. The firm had signed a well-known British author to write a series of mystery novels. The author reneged on his contract...[and] I told the directors that I could fill the void myself. They gave me the go-ahead and I did just that with "Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island", followed by "Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders".

TBB: How did you come up with the title, Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island?
JHR: So-called "Mystery Weekends" were all the rage at the time. These were usually held at remote locations, such as islands and mountain resorts.

TBB: What books have most influenced your life?

JHR: Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, And Then There Were None and Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

TBB: Do you have any advice for other writers?

JHR: Read! The sad fact is that most writers don't read books. They write in a vacuum, and usually they produce something that has already been done to death by authors ten times as skilled.

TBB: What is the interview question you always dread being asked?  

JHR: How did I choose the name, Merryll Manning, for my hero? It's a unique name, I'll agree. There's only one Merryll Manning in the world. But how did I choose it? I don't know. It just suddenly occurred to me. That seems like a stupid answer for a very reasonable question, but that's it.

If you are interested in learning more about John Howard Reid, The Merryll Manning Series, or his upcoming projects, check out his page on Author's Den:

***FTC Disclosure:  These books were provided by the author in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

If you are interested in purchasing this book, please consider supporting The Book Buff by purchasing from the following Amazon link, thank you!

Coming Soon:  The Reviews of...

 Merryll Manning: The Heath Farm Murders

 Merryll Manning: Beachfront "Holiday"


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the Author interview. I am adding this book to my TBR list.

Syeda Zehra said...

I really enjoyed this post..
and I'm your follower now..
You can visit my blog at

Angel said...

Hey, thanks for the comment on Mom Blogger's Club.. I like your blog, I'm following!

Ayesha said...

such a great book review...very interesting

Melissa said...

Thrilled that I found your site and I'm now following you. I LOVE that you provide a rating for books. While I am against censorship, I've always wished that books were rated somehow so I would have a clue as to what I'm getting myself into. For example, I know the subject matter of the book "Push" (which the movie "Precious" was based on) is an adult subject. There is no neat and tidy way to depict child molestation and incest. However, had I known the intensity of the language, etc. I don't think I would have purchased the book.

Thanks again for creating an awesome site!

The Book Buff said...

I totally agree with your censorship comment.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to have found your blog through your note on 20SB - sounds like I'll get lots of fab literary suggestions.

ElizOF said...

Excellent review and I particularly enjoyed the Q & A with the author. His best advice to writers? READ! Love it! Thanks for the warm welcome on Mom Bloggers.
I will post my question on your page and then complete the requested follow task!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I was looking for a relaxing summer read. A mystery I could just follow and get lost in. I think I may have found it.

Lovely in-depth reviews. Keep up the good work.

britni @ Antika Moda said...

Thanks for finding me on 20-something bloggers! I love reading, will definately be following :)

John Howard Reid said...

Thank you very much for your review of Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island. I agree with you that it takes a little time to establish the characters and get the plot rolling. I was tempted to cut some of this material for the USA edition, but allowing the characters to become real people for the reader adds immeasurably to the latter half of the novel's excitement and suspense.


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