Camino Ghosts: A Novel

Image of Camino Ghosts: A Novel
Release Date: 
May 28, 2024
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“what could be better than a cursed island, some supernatural happenings, and the righting of centuries of social wrongs?”

“It was a ship from Virginia, called Venus and it had around 400 slaves on board, packed like sardines,” bookstore owner Bruce Cable tells Mercer Mann, a writer who is looking for a new book subject. “Well, it left Africa with 400 but not all made it. Many died at sea. The conditions on board were unimaginable, to say the least. Anyway, Venus finally went down about a mile out to sea near Cumberland Island. Since the slaves were chained and shackled, almost all of them drowned. A few clung to the wreckage and washed ashore in the storm on Dark Island, as it became known. Or  Dark Isle. It was unnamed in 1760. They were taken in by runaways from Georgia, and together they built a little community. Two hundred years went by, everybody died or moved away and now it is deserted.”

One of the many facets of John Grisham’s enthralling fiction is his ability to take complex social issues and weave them into the fabric of his novels so that they make for a compelling read.

In Camino Ghosts, the third book in the Camino series, he does it again with his compelling story of Lovely Jackson, an 80-year-old Black woman who is determined to save Dark Isle, the now deserted island once settled by both shipwrecked Africans kidnapped into slavery and escaped slaves. Lovely is the last of those who settled on the island, and she stopped living there when she was 15, only returning to tend to the cemetery where her ancestors are buried.

For years no one wanted the island, an inaccessible and unfriendly barrier island of impenetrable jungle, poisonous snakes, and prowling panthers. But Hurricane Leo has changed the island’s topography and rabid land developers with politicians in their pocket see Dark Isle as the place to build a sprawling casino and resort complex.

But Lovely is determined, believing she is the sole owner of Dark Isle and the protector of her ancestors’ history and graves. She also happens to be the only one who can lift the curse of her great, great, great grandmother, Nalla, a woman who was kidnapped from her village in Africa, taken away from her husband and only child, chained in the hold of a ship as it crossed the Atlantic, and raped repeatedly by the crew members. No white man who has stepped on the island has survived.

Camino Ghosts is the third in the series about bookstore owner Bruce Cable, who likes fine wine, good food, pretty women (he and his wife, an importer of French antiques, have an open marriage), and books. But he is more than a bon vivant and purveyor of tomes, he likes to intervene in the island’s business to produce the best outcomes and is extremely supportive of his writers. Good at pulling strings, he is the force uniting  the factions that are fighting the development and is also helping his former lover, Mercer Mann, a bestselling author with writer’s block, find her next subject. And what could be better than a cursed island, some supernatural happenings, and the righting of centuries of social wrongs?