When people say they don't give a "flying fuck," typically it's just an expression. But it's explained plausibly as a water-slide activity in Jamaica Me Dead, the second installment of Bob Morris' Caribbean mystery trilogy, which hits bookstores Saturday, Oct. 1. There are even a couple of pages involving Viagra-like symptoms caused by chewing on the native root "Ama Aji."
For sure Morris knows the ins and outs of Jamaica the people, the country, the cooking, the culture, the tourists and his erudition is the backbone for this suspenseful story about the dangerous goings-on at Libido, a hedonistic Jamaican resort. The setting allows for colorful adult commentary and scenery juxtaposed with the action of the plot. (Sorry, it's hard not to see this book as a movie, even when reading it.) In that regard, Jamaica Me Dead is juicier and meatier than its forerunner, Bahamarama, a finalist at the 2005 Edgar Allen Poe Awards in the category of best first mystery novel.
In Jamaica Me Dead, the wealthy Jamaican owner of Libido is seemingly a target for terrorist campaigns that end up killing a friend of protagonist Zack Chasteen. Once again, Chasteen willingly throws himself into the unknown out of respect for his mysteriously dead football buddy. A former player for the Miami Dolphins, Chasteen is all about honor, even in the face of evil, which in this story comes down to greed tangled in the politics of third-world development. As in his debut novel, Bahamarama, Chasteen's leading lady is a soothing and devoted mainstay, as is his loyal sidekick, Boggy, the mysterious Taino whose influence is shamanistic.
Living in Winter Park, Morris shares the same lust for the good life as his fictional counterpart. So it's fitting that Morris is throwing a release party with free Red Stripe beer and reggae by Kool Vibes to celebrate book No. 2, as he winds down on deadlines for book No. 3, Bermuda Schwartz, due October 2006. Soon after, he heads out on a shameless self-promotion tour, during which he'll cook conch fritters for the folks. (4 p.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6 at Palmano's Espresso Bar, 331 S. Park Ave., Winter Park; 407-647-7520; www.bobmorris.net; free)
Jamaica Me Dead
By Bob Morris
(St. Martin's Minotaur, 304 pages)