"Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island" is the first in a series of mystery suspense novels that began life overseas back in 1985. Originally, the central character and narrator was not called Merryll Manning, but Tom Howard. The novels themselves were initially published under this pseudonym, because the actual author, John Howard Reid, was also at that time the managing director of the publishing firm, Rastar Press.
Even today, it does not sit well in the book trade for a publisher to publish his own books, although there are in fact many historical precedents for doing just that. Charles Dickens serialized his books in his own magazines before handing them over to Chapman and Hall to publish as novels. Sir Walter Scott owned the firm that published his initial efforts. T.S. Eliot was one of the founders of Faber and Faber. Edgar Wallace achieved success by publishing and publicizing his first book himself. The famous children’s author, Beatrix Potter, published all her own books herself before they were picked up by Frederick Warne… The list goes on and on.
"Trapped on Mystery Island" attracted only four reviews, all favorable, but not exactly a great critical start. Nonetheless, within six months the book had sold out. (It was later reprinted under the title, "Death Is an Island"). The Tom Howard series was on its way.
It didn’t take the critics too long to catch up to the wide-ranging enthusiasm of the mystery-reading public. Within a few years, several books in the series were hailed nationwide as Best Novels of the Year.
Despite soaring sales and critical acclaim, only one of the novels, "The Health Farm Murders" was picked up by an American publisher. Although a considerable monetary advance changed hands, the novel never appeared in print and the rights have since reverted to the author. However, an Asian edition was published in Hong Kong, and a French translation in Paris.
"Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island" marks the American debut of the twelve-book series. For the further enjoyment of U.S.A. mystery thriller fans, the novels will be published in chronological sequence. "Trapped on Mystery island" will be followed by "Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders" in late 2008, then "Merryll Manning: The Beachfront Murders" and "Merryll Manning: A Brush With Death" in 2009.