On a weekend vacation with her brother and niece, Beth Anderson is unnerved when a stroll on the beach reveals what appears to be a skull, and instantly recalls the retired couple who disappeared off the island's coast a few months earlier. As a stranger approaches, Beth panics and covers the evidence. But when she later returns to the beach, the skull is gone.
With only her niece as a witness, there is no proof of foul play for Beth to bring to the authorities. To her brother, the missing skull is just a good story to tell at an island bonfire and campout that night. The tale is heard by an eager group of vacationers -- including charismatic Keith Henson, the stranger from the beach. Everyone dismisses the events as the product of an overactive imagination, but when Beth hears someone outside her tent, she instinctively knows her fears are justified.
Determined to find solid evidence to bring to the police, Beth digs deeper into the mystery of the skull -- and everywhere she goes, Keith Henson seems to appear. He claims to be keeping an eye on her safety, but Beth senses other motives. Then a body washes ashore, and Beth begins to think she needs more help than she bargained for. Because investigating is a dangerous game, and someone wants to stop Beth from playing.
Modern-day piracy, decomposing human remains and a swanky Miami yacht club set the mood for another top-notch thriller from romance icon Graham (Killing Kelly). During a weekend camp-out on isolated Calliope Key, "compellingly attractive" Beth Anderson and her 14-year-old niece, Amber, stumble on a half-buried human skull that disappears by the time she returns with help. Ben, Beth's brother and Amber's father, suspects the object was merely a conch shell, but it's a safe bet that conch shells don't grow hair. More likely, someone on the island took the skull for reasons of his or her own--like hunky Keith Henson, the enigmatic diver who'd been lurking about at the time of the grisly discovery. Back home in Miami, Beth is stalked and harassed by ominous threats, forcing her to solicit the aid of a couple of cop pals, who set a trap for the culprit at the yacht club's Summer Sizzler festival. Even though the tale falls short as a real knuckle-biter, bestseller Graham doesn't disappoint with the steamy romance between Keith and Beth or the glamorous yacht-club doings. Boat lovers are sure to enjoy the fine attention to detail regarding luxury pleasure craft. (Mar.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 28, 2007
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Excerpt from The Island by Heather Graham
IT WAS A SKULL.
That much Beth Anderson knew after two seconds of dusting off bits of dirt and grass and fallen palm debris.
"Well?" Amber demanded.
"What is it?" Kimberly asked, standing right behind Amber, anxiously trying to look over her shoulder.
Beth glanced up briefly at her fourteen-year-old niece and her niece's best friend. Until just seconds ago, the two had been talking a mile a minute, as they always did, agreeing that their friend Tammy was a bitch, being far too cruel to her best friend, Aubrey, who in turn came to Amber and Kimberly for friendship every time she was being dissed by Tammy. They weren't dissing anyone themselves, they had assured Beth, because they weren't saying anything they wouldn't say straight to Tammy's face.
Beth loved the girls, loved being with them, and was touched to be the next best thing to a mother for Amber, who had lost her own as an infant. She was accustomed to listening to endless discussions on the hottest music, the hottest new shows and the hottest new movies -- and who did and didn't deserve to be in them, since the girls were both students at a magnet school for drama.
The main topic on their hot list had recently become boys. On that subject, they could truly talk endlessly.
But now their continual chatter had come to a dead stop. Kimberly had been the one to stub her toe on the unknown object.
Amber had been the one to stoop down to look, then demand that her aunt come over.
"Well?" Kim prodded. "Dig it up, Beth."
"Um...I don't think I should," Beth said, biting her lower lip. It wasn't just a skull. She couldn't see it clearly, there was so much dirt and debris, but despite the fact that it was half hidden by tangled grasses and the sandy ground, she could see more than bone.
There was still hair, Beth thought, her stomach churning. And even tissue.
She didn't want the girls seeing what they had discovered any more closely.
Beth felt as if the blood in her veins had suddenly turned to ice. She didn't touch the skull; she carefully laid a palm frond over it, so she would recognize the spot when she returned to it. She wasn't about to dig anything up with the girls here.
She dusted her hands and stood quickly, determined that they had to get back to her brother; who was busy setting up their campsite. They were going to have to radio the police, since cell phones didn't seem to work out here.
A feeling of deep unease was beginning to ooze along her spine as vague recollections of a haunting news story flashed into her mind: Molly and Ted Monoco, expert sailors, had seemed to vanish into thin air.
The last place they'd actually been seen was Calliope Key, right where they were now.
"Let's go get Ben," she suggested, trying not to sound as upset as she felt.
"It's a skull, isn't it?" Amber demanded.
She was a beautiful girl, tall and slender, with huge hazel eyes and long dark hair. The way she looked in a bathing suit -- a two-piece, but hardly a risqu? bikini -- was enough to draw the attention of boys who were much too old for her, at least in Beth's opinion. Kimberly was the opposite of Amber, a petite blonde with bright blue eyes, pretty as a picture.
Sometimes the fact that she was in charge of two such attractive and impressionable girls seemed daunting. She knew she tended to be a worrywart, but the idea of any harm coming to the girls was...
Okay! She was the adult here. In charge. And it was time to do something about that.
But they were practically alone on an island with no phones, no cars...not a single luxury. A popular destination for the local boat crowd, but distant and desolate.
It was two to three hours back to Miami with the engine running, though Fort Lauderdale was closer, and it was hardly an hour to a few of the Bahamian islands.