The Goat Woman of Largo Bay: A Novel

The Goat Woman of Largo Bay: A Novel

by Gillian Royes

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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. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451627428
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 09/27/2011
Series: A Shadrack Myers Mystery , #1
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
File size: 3 MB

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

Read an Excerpt

A sneak peek at Gillian Royes’s next novel, The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks


October 2011

With each passing mango tree filtering sunshine onto the asphalt, with each aquamarine bay spreading its arms to welcome him, Shadrack Myers’s forehead crumpled deeper into a frown. The things that usually delighted him––a mongoose scooting across the road, children waving as he drove past––went unnoticed on this trip, so set was his mind on the man he was about to meet.

The bartender’s anxiety had started shortly after ten o’clock that morning when his boss, Eric Keller, had approached him holding the keys to the Jeep.

“Joseph’s plane comes in at four fifteen,” the boss had said. “I need you to go. I can’t take the long drive, not with these . . .” He’d lowered to a chair as if it were hot, one hand waving toward his rear end. Distracted by the thought that a white American could have hemorrhoids like any black Jamaican, Shad had kept his face expressionless and nodded, and it was only an hour later that he realized the import of his mission.

“I going to Montego Bay Airport to pick up Mistah Eric’s son,” Shad explained to Beth, mother of his four children, while she was stirring pigeon pea soup for his lunch, a sleeping baby Joshua on her left hip.

“You mean . . . the batty boy?” Beth had answered, looking at him sideways with a wrinkle between her brows. Shad had cringed inwardly. If the first thought Beth had about Joseph was that he was gay, it would be on the mind of every other villager.

“Why he coming to Largo?” she’d asked.

“To write a business proposal––so they call it. The investor man who going into business with Mistah Eric want to see one, and since the boss don’t have no money to pay a Kingston consultant, he call Joseph. He say he send him to a fancy university in America to learn all that kind of thing, and he must be able to do it. If you ask me, what he really like is that he don’t have to pay Joseph until the investor man give us the money.”

Beth had only sighed and returned to her stirring. The quivering of her wide nostrils and the pursing of her mouth told it all. Shad moved behind her and put one arm around her plump waist and the other around Josh’s stumpy legs, feeling the rhythm of her stirring and smelling the Scotch bonnet pepper in the soup. They were both silent, remembering the other young man, the one named Gideon.

It was ten long years ago now, but he knew she was thinking about that terrifying night, when he’d come home at one in the morning to find her hugging a pillow in their tiny living room, the lights still on. When he asked her what had happened, she’d looked at him with huge eyes and told him how Gideon, Miss Elsa’s sixteen-year-old son from down the road, had come over earlier in the evening to take another sewing lesson, and how she’d given him a piece of fabric to start pleating.

“Then I hear the voices,” she’d said, and started crying, the words squeezed out between sobs still fresh in his mind all these years later. “I hear them––coming closer and closer. And Gideon and I just . . . freeze, and the boy stop sewing, his hands––he still holding the cloth I give him to stitch. And––and he turn his head, and his long narrow face just get longer––and he lean over the sewing machine, listening.” She’d stood up, needing to act it out, a young woman of twenty-four who’d never known such fear. “The people get closer––until they almost outside, only the wall separating us. So many people––making noise at the same time and sounding wild, wild like animals––like they just braying and cackling and crowing––all kind of noise, and a woman shouting out that Leviticus––that he say this and Leviticus say that.

“And I go to the window and I peep under the curtain––I careful they don’t see me. I couldn’t see the faces, just hands and feet. They walking with machete and stick––and one man carrying an axe. And I look at the youth, tall like his dead father, and the two of us know that they coming to kill him, just because––because he a batty boy and they say he come from the devil––the poor boy who can’t help how he born. Just because he act . . . act girlish sometimes, they coming to kill him. I look at him and he stand up.

“‘I going to Mama,’ he say––and like he start to cry––and I hush him.” She put one finger to her lips, the horror of it drying her tears. “They pass us, all the people––and I hear them stop outside the boy’s house up the road. I hear them––call out to his mother, telling him to come out, and calling him a sodomizer. I hear them shouting to each other to––to watch the doors, don’t let him escape. And I go to the boy and I––and I put my hand on his shoulder––and he shaking, shaking, and I say to him in his ear:

“‘I give you some money and you take a taxi now-now. Go to Port Antonio, to your aunty.’ I tell him they not going to trouble his mother––is not she they come for. And I tell him to hide in the bushes on the side of the house––and run behind them to the main road. And I let him out of the side door, and I tell him––I tell him to go to his aunty.”

Shad and Beth had sat on the loveseat holding each other, and he had rocked her to calm her terror when it bubbled up again. Before daylight, he’d crept out of the house and gone to Miss Elsa’s to tell her that her son was safe, that he was in Port Antonio with her sister.

“Thank you,” was all the small Indian woman had said before closing the door quickly.

After gulping down his bowl of soup this noontime, Shad had kissed Beth and set off west in the old Jeep along the coast road toward Montego Bay. And since he was both Largo’s unofficial sheriff and a praying man, he spent much of his time during the drive having a little chat with God about Joseph.

Please, don’t make him gay, was the gist of the prayers. Make it that he was just going around with funny friends when he was younger, and he grow out of it now. Because if he still gay, is me that have to protect him. It don’t matter that he white as snow, or that his father been living here fifteen years and own the best bar in town. Some of these heathens just going to be after the boy’s blood if he like men. I just asking you, please keep him safe while he here, God, whether he a batty man or not. Please.

And another time he reasoned, aloud this time, “Not that gayness frighten me personally anymore, you see, God, but you know it frighten Jamaica.” Because God and everyone else knew that to be a gay man on this island was to court death, a trail of beatings and murders to prove it. Even in Largo, a small fishing village with fifty families, a community too small to have a hospital or a police station, there were people who thought that every homosexual was a sinner and should be wiped off the face of the earth. Since the near lynching of Gideon, there’d been another incident in Largo with an outsider who’d suddenly appeared, an older man who kept to himself and who’d built a shack at the end of the village. After it was rumored that he’d made an indecent remark to a teenage boy, somebody had burned down his house and he’d never been seen again.

The country’s obsession with gayness, Shad was sure, had started two decades before with the ugly dancehall songs.

“The musicians cause the whole thing,” Shad had told Beth after Gideon’s departure. “They do anything nowadays to make money. So they start selling fear to poor people who hate their own life, I telling you, poor people who need to hate other people more.”

In years gone by there were no songs, no beatings, no murders that he remembered. The English composer man Noel Coward had lived in peace with a man friend not far from Largo, had even had parties with important people from Kingston, according to Granny, and nobody had said anything. But this new hatred, it was like a modern invention, this poison erupting out of the dancehall singers, a venom full of injustice, as far as Shad was concerned.

Crawling through the town of Falmouth, past the decaying Georgian buildings, Shad reflected on Joseph’s only other visit, eleven years earlier. At nineteen he’d been polite, like he was walking on eggshells. Two friends had come down with him, and the three had kept to themselves, driving around the island in the Jeep. The receptionist girls at Eric’s old hotel had nudged each other, whispering that Joseph and his friends must be batty boys. Only gay men would ignore them like that, they’d said. Shad had discouraged the talk, because Eric was a decent man who treated his employees well, and he didn’t deserve to have them gossiping about his son.

“You can’t take Mistah Keller’s money one day and talk about his family the next,” Shad had chastised the tittering front desk cashier.

Inside the airport’s parking lot, Shad sent up his last prayer and screeched the Jeep to a halt opposite the Immigration sign.

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The Goat Woman of Largo Bay 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
BillPilgrim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
convivia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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
gchristianson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
ParadisePorch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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?¿
mikedraper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
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Regis_Schilken More than 1 year ago
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!
harstan More than 1 year ago
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