The Goat Woman of Largo Bay begins the detective series featuring Shad, a bartender in a fishing village in Jamaica, who is the community problem solver and right hand of Eric, an American who owns the bar and a hotel left in ruins by a hurricane.
When Shad sees movement on the island offshore, he thinks it’s just a goat. But it turns out to be Simone, an American who has run away from her professional and personal life in the U.S., an intriguing woman who captures Eric's heart. Always keeping his ear to the ground, Shad discovers that a gunshot heard near Simone’s place late one night isn’t exactly friendly fire, but tied to a plot to harm Simone and ultimately manipulate local elections. But why does someone want to harm Simone? And what does she have to do with the elections? Only Shad can find out.
An irresistible character is born in The Goat Woman of Largo Bay and Royes wonderfully blends suspense and the soul of the islands in this smart debut.
About the Author
Gillian Royes is the creator of the Shad series, detective novels that take place on the North Coast of Jamaica. The first in the series, The Goat Woman of Largo Bay, appeared in 2011; the second, The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks, in 2012; and most recently, The Sea Grape Tree, in 2014. Prior to that she authored two nonfiction works entitled Business Is Good (1997) and Sexcess: The New Gender Rules at Work (2003). A native of Jamaica, Gillian pursued her higher education in the United States, obtaining a doctorate from Emory University in 1979. She currently lives in Atlanta and on the island of St. Croix, where she lectures at the University of the Virgin Islands. Find out more at GillianRoyes.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Goat Woman of Largo Bay CHAPTER ONE
At first he thought she was a goat. Staring at the distant spot, Shad decided there was something about goats that had always irritated him. Nobody liked them, even if they were as common to Largo as fishing boats. But they were rude animals—facety, his grandmother used to call them—invading your yard to eat your young tomatoes and glaring when you tried to shoo them away.
The thought came only a minute after Eric had shouted his name and Shad had placed the glass he’d been wiping on a shelf and hurried around the counter of the bar.
“What happening, boss?” he’d said.
“There’s something on the island!” Eric, his T-shirt and shorts flattened by the sea breeze, was pointing toward the tiny offshore island.
“I don’t see nothing.” Shad had squinted at the lump of rocks and its lone tree. “Probably just a bird, or a shadow.”
“I’m telling you, there’s something out there.”
A tall man with the red-brown skin of a northerner who’d been in the tropics too long, Eric was standing statue-still, knees bent, a few feet from the edge of the cliff. Every part of him, the outstretched arm holding a pipe, the swirling white hair, the small paunch even, strained toward the island.
Atop the five steps leading down to the grass, Shad had shielded his eyes against the setting sun. Golden-orange, the island looked like a prodigal son sitting a quarter mile offshore. The water that separated it from the cliff was striped turquoise and aqua, long waves rolling toward the shore, forever restless without a protective reef.
“I see it,” Shad said.
“I told you so,” Eric said, and straightened. “What do you think it is?”
“Look like a goat, boss.”
Eric agreed, because Shadrack Myers was known in Largo Bay as a smart-man, in the best sense of the term. He might be small and wiry, they said, but he was as bright as any Kingston professor and as wily as Anansi, the spider of the folk tales. The reason for this, according to the old ladies, was that he was born with a high forehead and the blackest skin a man could have.
“Who’d put a damn goat out there?” Eric asked.
“It only take one renegade to cause confusion,” Shad said. And the renegade knew that Eric wouldn’t do anything, because a foreign man couldn’t afford to make a fuss in a small Jamaican village.
“Why would they want to do that?” Eric said, and put his hands on his hips.
“Probably to separate it from the herd. Must be sick.”
“Sick? They can’t just take a sick goat out and leave it. Don’t they know the place is mine?” Eric said, and raised his arms to heaven just as Shad turned away.
Few people other than Eric noticed the little island anymore, and Shad tried to see it the way his neighbors did, as nothing more than background wallpaper, like the tall mountains behind the village. Looking at the roofless, paint-stripped walls on the island only left a sweet-and-sour feeling in his stomach.
Behind the counter, Shad cut limes into thin slices and prodded the last of the cherries out of the bottle, wondering how to find the owner of the goat. If he started talking about the animal, someone might row out and steal the goat. But if he and Eric didn’t do something, the owner might take other goats over, and there’d be even more trouble.
Setting a bottle of wine on the counter, he called to Eric.
“Boss, remember to order more red wine. We running low.”
If any customers had been seated in the bar, they would never have known that the slim, midthirties man bustling behind the counter—the shirt neatly tucked into the belted pants—was thinking of anything other than the job at hand. Instead, and as foreigners sipping a beer often did, they would have thought that Shad was the happiest man in Jamaica—and missed the haunted look behind his eyes. They could have been forgiven, because it was easy to assume from his trademark grin, with its gap between the front teeth, that Shad was a man with few problems and a good ear; in other words, the perfect bartender.
While the bar was prepared for evening business, Eric sat on the top step, his back to Shad. The only response the younger man heard was a grunt, accompanied by a cloud of pipe tobacco, as always Canadian maple, which blew in with the sea breeze, filling the empty restaurant.
When it was finally too dark to see, Eric stood and tapped the dead ashes from his pipe bowl against the step. As he plodded past the bar, it was clear to Shad that the goat’s invasion was hanging over them both. It had brought back regrets that would linger until they took action.
The next morning dawned drizzly and gray, unusual for Largo in midsummer. Visibility was poor and Shad spent most of the morning placing and emptying buckets under the bar’s leaky thatch roof. Near him, Eric, his forehead lined with debt, sat at a wooden table in the bar calculating the cost of a new roof, looking up from his paperwork a few times to ask the name of a workman or a hardware store, glancing at the island while he did it.
“Boss,” Shad finally asked, his voice offhanded, “you going out to the island?”
“Nah, I don’t think so,” Eric said. He looked up and rubbed his knees, the way he did when it rained. “Did you find out who took a goat out? Anyone with a sick goat?”
“Half the goats around here are sick, man,” Shad said, rubbing a hand over his shaved head. Speculation in front of Eric was never a good idea, because next thing, he’d be driving all over town asking questions and making accusations.
Two days later, pushing in and straightening chairs after lunch, a broom in one hand, Shad glanced up and saw someone rowing toward the island. The bright purple and red canoe was carved from a single log, like most of the older fishing boats. It beached on the eastern side of the island. The rower offloaded a few bags and disappeared. Staring without blinking, feeling behind him to make sure he didn’t miss the chair, Shad sat and watched the person return, again with bags, and row back east around the point.
A goat, a man rowing bags of things to and from the island—they didn’t add up to Shad, and he knew everything that went on in Largo. In a community of five hundred in an isolated corner of Jamaica, a village without a police station or a hospital, someone had to make it their job to sniff out—and snuff out—problems even before they emerged, and Shad was that man.
The bartender’s vocation as sniffer and snuffer had started in early childhood because he was a fierce runner, and since he was also a nice child, his ability to run had earned him many a ten-cents. When the nurse in the clinic was needed, when money had to be paid to the obeah man, the magician on the hill, it was Shad they called. And every night, when he lay next to his grandmother in her iron bed, she snoring so loudly he could hardly fall asleep, he would think about what errand he’d run that day and what problem he’d helped to solve. And decades later he would do the same, lying beside a sleeping Beth, thinking about the woman, the woman he’d thought was a goat.
The purple and red boat remained a puzzle to Shad even after a few discreet inquiries. Avoiding the fish market, where they gossiped too much for an investigation this subtle in nature, he questioned a few older fishermen who hung around the bar at night. But for all the complimentary white rums he provided, no one knew of the boat or a separated goat. It was just enough to intrigue a man who had to know.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Eric is an American who owned and ran a hotel until a major hurricane hit Largo Bay, Jamaica, and made the peninsula that it was constructed on into an offshore island. Now, he is the owner of a bar with a view of the island, which he still owns. His bartender is a local named Shad, who knows everyone in this small community. When a woman is discovered living on Eric's island, he allows her to stay there, after she offers to pay rent. She was born in Jamaica but left as a small child. Her back story is not revealed at first, but it is obvious that she is either running from something or someone, or just needs a time out from her. I enjoyed the story when it focused on the woman and her story and her effect on Eric and the locals. But, the other main storyline in the book, involving Jamaican politics and business, lacked any emotional force and did not engage me.There are supposed to be more books coming from Royes involving these characters and Largo Bay. I enjoyed this book enough to check them out when they arrive.
Set in Jamaica, written by author Gillian Royes, this mystery novel pits, Shad. A bartender in a coastal area cruelly devastated by a hurricane, against urban thugs. His boss, an American from Ohio whose luxury hotel had been his pride and joy now runs the bar/restaurant across from land severed from the shore by the frightful storm. The ruins of the splendid hotel structure stand on what is now an island across a deep channel. One day Chad and Eric see something moving over there. A goat? No, a woman has made a camp in the ruins. Why? Should they take legal action to see that she goes? The well crafted novel will keep readers guessing until its satisfactory conclusion. I look forward to Royes' next book.e
The Goat Woman of Largo Bay wants to be the first book in a mystery series when it grows up. I'm not sure it's quite there yet. There really isn't a lot of mystery in this book. The mystery plot is quite predictable and was really not much of a mystery. Although the "goat woman" didn't turn out to be what I had initially envisioned when I read the title of this novel.That said, there is much to like about this novel. The setting of Jamaica is unusual in a main stream novel. It also happens to be one of my favorite places on earth! The author, Gillian Royes (who grew up in Jamaica) captures the unique flavor of the island perfectly. Shad, the bartender, has great potential as a character in future novels. Royes managed to avoid the stereotype of the island bartender as she developed the character of Shad. We learn about has past mistakes and meet his family. He embodies the beautiful spirit of the Jamaica people that I find almost more attractive than the scenery of the island. I'd like to see him play a big part in future novels.The other characters in this book did not captivate me as much as Shad. They seemed more one dimensional and I wasn't as invested in their stories. I did not understand the attraction between Eric, the expat and Simone, the goat woman. I think with more developed characters, it might work. I just didn't "know" either of them well enough to make it a plausible relationship.I would like to know more about the mysterious character of the Obeah man. He seemed to be a mix of holistic healer, village shaman and local witch doctor, complete with potions and spells. "Obeah" is an actual Jamaican practice of the occult arts, if I understand it correctly. He is another character I would love to read about in future books.This is also a story about grief and how one woman finds her own path through the process. This aspect of the book was well done. Royes managed to capture the despair of grief and the feelings of isolation that Simone encountered and her personal journey to let go and move on with her life.Even with it's flaws, I can recommend this novel. I look forward to seeing what the series grows up to be!Thanks to the author and publisher for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review of this work.
Shelf Awareness billed this as a `mystery¿, but it¿s about as much of a mystery as Alexander McCall Smith¿s Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency. The protagonist, Shadrack Myers, tends bar at a failing former hotel in Jamaica run by aging American ex-pat Eric Keller. This story revolves around a mysterious woman who comes to inhabit the island just off-shore, that is owned by Eric. There¿s some shady island politics thrown in, but Jamaica didn¿t come to life for me the way Botswana did in Smith¿s novels. The whole book seemed to me lack cohesiveness (not to mention a plot). My overall reaction: `huh?¿
Eric is an American living in Jamaica. He owns a bar and damaged hotel in Largo Bay. A hurricane caused his hotel to be separated from the main land.As the story gets under way, Eric's right hand man, Shad, sees what he thinks is a goat on Eric's island. It turns out to be a woman, Simone. Eric rows out and learns that Simone wants a place for peace and quiet. She will pay the monthly fee just to be left alone and to have groceries delivered.Shad is the person who people feel comfortable telling things to. As the story of the woman on the island spreads, two men go to the island for no good. There are shots fired and the men scurry home.With little changing in their lives, Eric becomes fascinated with Simone. We learn why she came to the island and even when her brother visits and tries to talk her into coming home, we see her determination.Live goes on and two men visit the village and try to see what politics the people have.The setting is well described and at a leisurly pace that allows the reader to slow down as if they were part of the action.Only in the barest of terms could this be called a detective story. It's more of collecting gossip, and yet, with a keen sens of dialogue, the author has provided an entertaining novel.
The Goat Woman of Largo Bay Gillian Royes What makes a reviewer grant a 5-star rating to an author's first book? A man who read Gillian Royes tale, The Goat Woman of Largo Bay, and thought it an excellent read for so many reasons. The book touched my heart. Many years ago when I was trying to figure out my own existence, I remember a counselor telling me that the dissolution of my spirit just might be my Dark night of the Soul. _______________In Christian terms, the Dark night of the Soul refers to the supreme anguish a person experiences, a definite meaninglessness and hopelessness, that drives her/him towards God. In The Goat Woman of Largo Bay, Simone, caught up in the dissolution of her marriage and an unfortunate vehicular accident that left her beloved daughter dead, is reeling in a kind of despair. But, God, she is not seeking. She is seeking herself. Her quest is for a person-a being-one that will gift her decimated thinking with some beam of hope-any light ray-that life, as she has known it, is still worthwhile. _______________As a result, this deeply troubled Simone, squats on a very tiny island off the coast of Largo Bay. She seeks no one. She seeks no thing. She seeks to survive. She seeks to find meaning in her own personality. In her distressed mind, she hopes only to prove that, as a woman, she is worthwhile, if to no one else, then at least to herself. How? Her distraught mind guilts her to believe that she must survive on the island that at one time had joined the small village of Largo Bay via narrow peninsula. _______________Now, because of a ferocious past hurricane, the island and its decaying hotel ruins are left to the ravages of the open sea. This decimated hotel becomes Simone's refuge. Fortunately, two brave villagers who first thought they saw life on the tiny island, eventually realize that The Goat Woman of Largo Bay is a human being, a woman, Simone. They begin providing her with much removed warmth because she is so distant. As time passes, it appears that Simone may be on the brink of a total mental breakdown, fighting the possessive ghosts of her past. She shares any spoken thoughts with a stranded mutt of a dog named Cammy. _______________What will happen to The Goat Woman of Largo Bay? Can she survive-alone? Who, if anyone, can break through her well fortified mental fortress to ease her isolated anguish? Will it be a villager, a family member who finally tracks her down, or will it take another ferocious storm? These questions I will leave for you, the reader. Suffice it to say, The Goat Woman of Largo Bay is not usual cloak/dagger/suspense with romance thrown in. _______________Author Gillian Royes' novel will disturb you-it will haunt you, because all of us, in one way or another have had our own Dark Night of the Soul. How Simone survives what she has set out for herself as an almost impossible task will leave your imagination demanding some kind of closure if not her rescue! _______________I cannot recommend books of this caliber high enough. The Goat Woman of Largo Bay is a tale for both female and male readers who hope the human spirit will survive in spite of indomitable odds. I take my hat off to Author Gillian Royes. Please keep on writing!
Former convict Shadrack "Shad" Myers is a bartender at the Largo Bay Restaurant and Bar in Jamaica. He and his employer American businessman Eric Keller notice an odd sight on a tiny island that the Yank owns across the bay. They head over for a closer look at what appears from a distance to be a goat. Instead, they meet fortyish pretty Simone Hall who explains she wants to be left alone as a hermit while coping with a tragedy. Simone offers Eric rent to remain alone on his island. She keeps a dairy of sorts and begins to welcome Eric's visits. However, others spot her and soon Largo bay is abuzz about the female hermit. Her concerned brother Cameron Carter arrives from the States hoping to take Simone home with him. At the same time, thugs Tiger and Sharpie, who work muscle for factory owner Milton Manheim, decide to visit the Goat Woman of Largo Bay. The cast including Jamaica make for an engaging character study of a emotionally scarred woman struggling simply to breathe as she has taken a timeout from life. Readers will root for Simone to reclaim her moxie while Shad, Eric and others encourage her to return to the living. Though there is some limited suspense that adds little to the story line, the Goat Woman of Largo Bay is an enjoyable look at caring people helping to heal a hurting individual. Harriet Klausner