J.L.F. Waldron’s “Gypsy in the Moonlight” and “In a Fine Castle”

As we happily await the third book in The Calypso Mysteries Bonham Mars series (described as “an experimental series of historical novels marrying noir and calypso”) here are descriptions of the second book of the series, J.L.F. Waldron’s In a Fine Castle (2020), and the first, Gypsy in the Moonlight (2019). As The Calypso Mysteries blog, informs, “Taking place in American-occupied Trinidad & Tobago during World War II, the Calypso Mysteries follow ex-policeman, ex-convict Bonham Mars as he courses through the underbelly of colonial society.”

In a Fine Castle: April 1943. As the Second World War rages on, rations in the British colony of Trinidad start to dwindle, curfews take effect and nerves begin to fray. Since last year’s U-boat attacks, more and more American servicemen have flooded into this petrol-rich island. Their aim—to protect British and American interests both here and across the Caribbean Sea. After his recent encounters with the Yankees, Bonham Mars is anxious to avoid the foreigners and stay out of trouble. But the ‘American occupation’ is not Mars’ only problem these days. Summoned to a mansion in Santa Cruz, he winds up face to face with the island’s most notorious citizen—Prohibition-era ‘rum-runner,’ Nello Gaspard. The deported gangster’s son has been abducted and he hires Mars to find his boy. Racing the clock, Mars shuttles back and forth across the crowded island chasing clues to the identity and location of the kidnappers. But he is frustrated by wartime emergencies and other setbacks…and reminded at every turn that, no matter how singular your focus or feverish your pace, you always find more crime than you were looking for.

Gypsy in the Moonlight: The year is 1942. World War II is in full swing. The Caribbean islands form an arc of lookout posts arrayed against an unseen enemy. From here Great Britain and the United States spy the waves for German U-boats attempting stealthy approaches to the Panama Canal, the Gulf of Mexico and the strategic ports of South and Central America. Not far from the deadly fray out in the mid-Atlantic, life might have gone on as usual in the British colony of Trinidad. But this cosmopolitan island is the largest oil refinery in the British Empire, and has become a crucial surveillance station manned by thousands of American servicemen. And as the days grow hotter and the nights grow longer lying in wait for those Nazi ships, restlessness turns to mischief, and mischief turns to murder.

Ex-policeman Bonham Mars is determined to ride out this war, and the American “social invasion,” as uneventfully as possible. After all, he has problems of his own. But when a neighbor’s granddaughter goes missing and it seems he is the only one that can find her, he soon finds himself in the midst of a notorious industry that has blossomed around the mighty “Yankee dollar.” He also finds himself on a collision course with a killer and a long line of uniformed, and un-uniformed, personnel determined to end his amateur investigation.

For more information, see https://thecalypsomysteries.home.blog/

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