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Summary

Nominated for the Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel.

PI Truman Smith has become a loner after failing to find his sister Jan during a recent search of Galveston Island. He jogs on the Seawall, plays with his cat, and reads lots of Faulkner books. He is pulled from his self-imposed retirement when his old high-school football buddy Dino asks him to find a young girl named Sharon. As Tru begins his investigation, dead bodies begin to appear and Tru himself is attacked. His search for Sharon takes him to all sorts of interesting places on and near the Island.

Bill Crider spins a good mystery tale in a wonderful setting with interesting characters and enough plot twists to keep listeners guessing until the last few chapters.

©1991 Bill Crider (P)2011 David N. Wilson

Critic reviews

"Crider has created another well-drawn protagonist, this time a moody, introspective PI in the finest tradition, who works in a seamy city smoldering with old and dangerous secrets." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Dead on the Island

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Enjoyable PI mystery

Dead on the Island is the first in the late Bill Crider's Truman Smith PI series and if the other four books in the series are half as good as this one, I'll be in for a treat.

A missing girl, a reluctant investigation, old friendships, history, regrets, a personal loss with unanswered questions, a beating, death, a new woman, possible romance, uncovered secrets, a ransom, manipulation, resentment, a stakeout, danger, more death, finally some answers and a resolution, but not to the question that troubles Truman Smith the most.

I really liked this one. The plot itself isn't amazing, a bit straightforward and the culprit isn't too difficult to guess after a certain point in the story is reached and you can fully understand his motivations.

I liked the setting of Galveston, Texas with the changes to the island over Smith's lifetime explained along with some of its history. It was more prominent in its past, before being usurped by Houston.

I liked the main character. He's quite solitary initially, happy enough with his books and his cat. He feels he has failed his sister, who went missing when his attention was elsewhere. A long search for answers has revealed little about her disappearance, though there are a few teasers here. Some mysteries you don't ever get answers to, in real life and in fiction. I'll be interested to see if this theme forms part of an over riding arc to the series.

Overall - very enjoyable.

4.5 from 5

Bill Crider has been enjoyed before - A Time for Hanging, Outrage at Blanco, Piano Man and a horror novel as Jack MacLane - Blood Dreams

Read - (listened to) March, 2021
Published - 1991
Page count - 227 (5 hrs 33 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

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  • Byron
  • 14-05-14

Good start to a PI series

This is a great example of the pure PI type mystery. Truman Smith has backed away from investigations after spending a year looking for his missing sister. His rich, old high school friend pulls him back into detecting when he asks Tru for a big favor--find his un acknowledged daughter born to one of his prostitutes. Sharon grew up believing her father was gone, and not knowing that her teacher-mother had once been a prostitute. At first Tru believes Sharon has run away after learning the truth about her beginnings, but the more Tue investigates, the more he suspects something else is happening.

This is a good start to this series, leaving the missing sister as an opening for future books. The story is told in first person, with Tru's voice. There is quirky humor throughout the story--especially Tru's "friendliness" with a rat as he runs along the Galveston, Texas waterways, bring it cheese to eat at one time. Crider definitely got the atmosphere of Galveston. The mystery kept me guessing as I got the clues the as Tru discovered them. Will be reading more from this author.

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  • Katherine M.
  • 27-12-16

Stilted narration

Very flat and broken narration made a decent story rough to listen to. I enjoy Bill Crider's stories but am used to the animated narration of George Guidell. I will probably listen to the rest of this series but hope the narration improves.

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  • Ellen Oceanside
  • 21-06-20

Excellent

New author and I enjoyed, the setting of Galveston. Truman couldn’t find his sister, so now taking a lay back approach to life. When Dino needs help to find a missing girl, he does. Good team and plot, they have questions and doubts, making them human. Good story and enjoyed the audio. Given audio for my voluntary review and my honest opinion

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-02-20

Story was good, narrator sounded robotic in parts

So, I liked the story a lot, but getting through the narration was tough in spots because the narrator sounded very monotone in many parts. It took away from the story.

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  • Regina
  • 25-06-14

Grows on you in a sneaky way

Liked the atmosphere. This is not the Texas of right wing nutcases. No climate change deniers in this book. Nobody treating gun ownership like a religion. Nobody hating gay people and quoting Fox news. These characters are from the Texas I've been to but never seen quoted in the news media. They are eccentrics living well close to the economic bone, not well off but well enough off to have their own thoughts and unpredictable relationships. They are generous without being showy about it.

As a mystery this book is a little slow, but it would have been more of a pleasure were it not for the narrator. Plenty of Audible reviewers rail against narrators whom I think are just fine, but this guy kept me from committing to the story. He's awkward. I was constantly aware of him reading text, instead of conveying a story. I like a narrator to disappear from notice. Martin Gollery never did.

I'm writing this after listening to another book, and I had a hard time bringing the plot of this one back to mind. What happened to the girl? Only after pondering it for some time did I remember, as well as remember who the killer was. Oh yeah. Him.

Not sorry I bought it. Considering it's the writer's debut book, pretty good. Love the rat, and the cat. Made me feel better about Texas, the way "Speed" made me feel better about the LAPD.

2 people found this helpful