Author Mitch Grant, a St. James City resident, has captured the essence of what it is to be a Pine Islander in his newly released murder mystery, "The Popping Cork Murder."
Most Pine Islanders will know what a "popping cork" is but the rest of us immediately think it has something to do with drinking wine. What it actually is a cylindrical float or bobber that makes a popping sound that is used to catch fish.
Inspired by Southwest Florida's acclaimed mystery writers, John D. MacDonald and Randy Wayne White, Grant has created a murder mystery every Pine Islander will love.
The two main characters, Jim and Jill Story, are retired bankers. They have found a small house in St. James City and on this "quaint little drinking island with a fishing problem." The Storys have settled into typical Pine Island retirement: fishing, bicycling, dining and drinking.
A short time after the couple settle into island life, a friend from their banking days comes to visit. Javier is Hispanic with Cuban roots. As Javier is introduced to the people of Pine Island, he is quickly befriended by everyone.
Javier spends his days fishing with Jim and his nights frequenting all the well known "watering holes" of Pine Island. In short order, Javier begins going out on his own and Jim helps Javier rent a boat. Several days later Javier is found dead on the boat in Pine Island Sound.
The mystery surrounds why an out-of-state banker, someone no one knew until just a few weeks ago, would be murdered. The police investigation seems off to a good start but after a while stalls. Jim and Jill decide they should find the murderer and the search begins.
For the Pine Island reader, interest lies in all the familiar landmarks Grant has worked into the plot line: Bert's, Woody's, Low Key Tiki, Froggy's, Captain Con's, Tarpon Lodge and many others.
Grant also has a great familiarity with the waters surrounding Pine Island, Sanibel and Captiva and anyone with a passion for boating or fishing will find many familiar places in the book.
The book is fast paced search for the killer. Was the murder connected with Spanish gold, a decades old murder in Cuba, a local resident or the gold stash of a long dead Florida millionaire.
The characters are well developed, the mystery believable and the writing excellent. This book is a mystery first, a love story second, and finally a great read.
"My book combines classic Florida mystery fiction with my passion for Florida life in a way that's sure to appeal to visitors to Southwest Florida, fishermen, boaters, retires and mystery fans of all ages," Grant says.
The book is available at Amazon.com in the Kindle Edition for $7.50. The print edition will be available shortly.