||June 24, 2008
"Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island" is the first in a series of highly acclaimed mystery suspense novels that began life overseas back in 1985. Manning is a police sergeant, which is certainly not an unusual occupation for the hero of a series of detective thrillers.
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Admittedly, Merryll comes across as somewhat eccentric, but this again could be rated as a fairly conventional trait among the clue-hunting heroes of crime fiction.
Furthermore, Manning works in Miami, Florida, a tried-and-true venue in numerous films and novels.
What does set Manning slightly apart from the pack, however, is his young, super-attractive, pocket-sized girlfriend, Susan Alexis Devoro Ford.
Despite her diminutive size, Miss Ford proves quite a handful for a hero who is, as he ruefully admits, more than twice her age. Again, this figures as standard Hollywood material, particularly for fans of aging heroes like John Wayne, Clark Gable and Gary Cooper. Unlike these macho super-stars, however, the far more cerebral Manning is really trapped by Miss Ford. She holds the whip hand.
Miss Ford proves a most unusual assistant, although it’s not until the sixth novel in the series, "Merryll Manning Has a Brush with Death" that she reveals her true character.
For further reviews and access to the $2.99 Kindle edition, please click the Amazon Kindle ebook link above.
It is very pleasing to find that American readers and reviewers really appreciate "Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island" which marks the U.S.-Canadian debut of the 12-book series, which was published some years ago in just about every country except the U.S.A. and Canada.
Oh, yes, American rights were indeed purchased, but in order to suppress the books, not to publish them, and thus prevent Merryll Manning cutting into sales of already established thriller writers.
However, for the further enjoyment of mystery thriller fans, the novels are now being published in their correct chronological sequence. "Trapped on Mystery island" was followed by "Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders" in late 2008, and now "Merryll Manning: Beachfront Holiday" in mid-2010. "Merryll Manning On the Rim of Heaven" is scheduled for October-November, 2011.
Headed "An enjoyable, fast-paced whodunit", the following review by Shoma Mittra was published on August 12, 2010:
Merryll Manning, cop extraordinaire, is on vacation. By his side is a gorgeous nubile nymphet named Susan Ford. Susan is not above using her charms on the man she seeks and Manning, besotted by this dazzling beauty, is only too willing to be her puppet. So much so that he pays two grand for a vacation on an island in the Florida Keys - just to please her.
This vacation is, however, one with a twist. An eclectic group of people have paid a thousand dollars each to be part of a murder mystery setting on an isolated island. They are cut off from any communication with the mainland. The sixteen or so guests comprise a priest, a lawyer, a novelist, a cop and several actors. They are asked to select a "suspect" and a "victim" and solve a "murder". The winner will walk away with five grand.
Susan has her sights set on the money and Merryll Manning is her trump card. Manning too is keen on getting his two grand back – if he can resist the charms of his sweetheart, that is. As he admits, "My only hope was her unpredictability. She was a spoiled child. The more I humored her whims, catered to her caprices, the more likely she'd suffer a sudden attack of guilt."
The stage is all set and the players each have their parts. But the fun and games soon turn to more morbid business when evidence of blood and a real victim are found in the old priory. With no way of contacting the mainland, the only option is to find the murderer. Tension, suspense and mistrust creeps in among the guests. Merryll Manning takes the matter into his own hands and with his clever but somewhat erratic deductive abilities manages to nail the culprit.
John Howard Reid has written a fast paced whodunit with skillful use of dialogue to move the plot along. He points the finger at many, keeping the reader guessing till finally the real murderer is disclosed. Reid has over 70 books to his credit and the Merryll Manning mysteries are great page turners.
Reviewed by Robyn McWilliam in Partners in Crime
A weird group of characters is assembled on an island in the Florida Keys for a murder mystery weekend. There are office bearers of the Paradise Club. There's also an attorney, businessmen, representatives of the arts and a priest.
The story is told by Merryll Manning, a police sergeant. He is a likeable, quirky character accompanied by his feisty girlfriend, Susan. All are competing for a $5,000 prize. Mystery reigns from the outset as several of the participants are actually paid actors. Who is who?
Just as you are caught up in the characters' differing behaviors, the whole game turns sinister. A real murder is committed. The action moves on with surprising twists to the outcome.
"Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island" is an enjoyable read and does keep you guessing till the end.
The author's writing style is pacy and easy to read. His characters are intriguing, but the island setting could have been used more effectively.
Reviewed by Danelle Drake
John Howard Reid has created excellence in "Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island". "Mystery Island" is the first in a very highly acclaimed series of mystery novels that came to fruition in 1985. Merryll Manning is the classic hero in this suspense series and John Howard Reid is dead-on with this perfect character. You have the police sergeant working in the perfect setting of Miami, Florida. A hub for shady characters, various criminal activities and bikini-clad hotties Miami gives Merryll many headache-filled evenings. His petite super-cutie assistant, Susan Alexis Devoro Ford, is half his age and full of spunk. Wrapped around her pinkie-finger Merry really toes-the-line when it comes to his assistant.
I always struggle when writing about fiction works. I really don’t want to spoil anything for the future reader, as I have had books ruined with just one phrase from others who have read the book. Let me just say, you must read this book. I can’t wait to get the next installment; "Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders." I love it when you close a good book and know there is more to follow. John Howard Reid is sure to have a great many followers eager to read each book in this wonderful series. From the eerie-cover to the final paragraph I was hooked on "Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island."
Reviewed by Renee Washburn for Apex Reviews
On vacation in the Florida Keys with his girlfriend, police sergeant Merryll Manning takes part in a Murder Mystery weekend, with the chance to win a cash prize of $5000 on the line. When a real murder actually takes place, though, all fun and games come to an abrupt end as Merryll strives – almost in vain – to learn the identity of the true-life killer.
To make matters worse, the vacationers are all trapped on the island without any way to contact the mainland, adding an element of grave fear to an already tense situation...
With little more than his instinctive wits on his side, Merryll soon finds himself in a race against time to solve the deadly mystery before he becomes its next victim...
In "Merryll Manning: Trapped On Mystery Island", author John Howard Reid combines vivid, unforgettable characters and riveting action to create a richly compelling – and surprisingly amusing – top-notch suspense thriller.
The debut installment in the Merryll Manning Mysteries series, "Trapped On Mystery Island" introduces the reader to the inimitable stylings of its eponymous protagonist, an abrasive, no-nonsense pain-in-the-ass who you’d nonetheless want on your side if you found yourself in the same predicament as the hapless vacationers.
With superb character development, vivid scenarios, and an engrossing plotline that both preserves and pushes the flow of the story, Reid’s engaging tale is a classic whodunit sure to please fans of well-crafted murder mysteries.
With just enough suspense to keep you guessing until the very end, "Merryll Manning: Trapped On Mystery Island" is a strong debut from a solid literary talent. Highly recommended.
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Reader Reviews for "Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island"
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|enjoyed reading and reviewing BOOK 1 of the series:
Writer Reid provides the details, factors, and aspects necessary to paint his scenes with realism, cloak his characters with credible traits and present a just plain fun read. I like the asides, repartee and diverse group of characters with which Reid peoples his works.
While the launch work for the series, TRAPPED On Mystery Island is the second Merry Manning work I have read. Both have proven to be filled with the suspense, use of expression, parlance and idiom along with intricate stratagem needed to keep me turning the page.
Trapped On Mystery Island serves to introduce to the uninitiated the unmatched visualization of Reid’s one of a kind leading character. On the one hand Merry is a rough, straightforward investigator who tends at the odd moment to lapse into moments of whimsy.
Providing splendid character growth, flamboyant scenarios, and an engrossing plotline serving to maintain and forward the flow of the tale Reid constructs classic cozy type detective novel certain to satisfy fans of well wrought unassuming mysteries.
All in all John Howard Reid’s Merryll Manning TRAPPED On Mystery Island is an engrossing read sure to please those who enjoy cozy type mysteries. I look forward to reading more of this most pleasurable series.
Happy to recommend John Howard Reid’s Merryll Manning TRAPPED On Mystery Island.