Women of Skawa Island by Anthony Bidulka – The second Adam Saint thriller opens with an apocalyptic scene. A ship in
the south Pacific stops near a small island. The passengers are told a
cataclysmic event is threatening all the continents of the earth. A group of
112 men and women are transported to the deserted island and left there. Ten
years later a yacht visits the island snd a gay couple go ashore to frolic on
the beach. They meet 3 young women and a young boy who ask the men to contact
the CRDA (Canadian Recovery Disaster Agency).
The CRDA is a part of IIA
(International Intelligence Agency) in Canada. The message comes as a shock to
Maryann Knoble, head of the Canadian IIA. There is no record within the
organization of an operation being carried out by the CRDA on the remote island
but the CRDA is the owner of the island. Knoble’s predecessor, Sergiusz Belar,
purchased the island before succumbing to early onset Alzheimer’s.
She visits Belar in a nursing home
but his damaged mind can offer no more than the cryptic phrase “Rex save Julia”.
While intensely frustrated at her
inability to find out what has happened at the island Knoble realizes she
cannot leave the call for help unanswered.
Unsure she can trust any active CRDA
agent to undertake the task she reaches out to Adam Saint living on his father’s
farm near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. When he turns down her request to take on
the assignment she entices him to come to Toronto by telling him there may
actually be a cure for the terminal brain cancer with which he was diagnosed in
the first book of the series. (Knoble continues to cruelly conceal from Saint
that he is not suffering from any illness.)
Alexandra, his lovely, though crude
and emotionally unstable sister, accompanies him to Toronto.
Saint receives a treatment as
promised by Knoble and then leaves with Alexandra for the South Pacific. They
travel to Tubuai, another small island, about 50 km from Skawa. It is the
nearest inhabitated island to Skawa.
With the aid of a colouful
Australian they fly to Skawa where they soon encounter the women and child and
arrange for them to be returned to Tubuai.
As they explore Alexandra and Saint
determine life on Skawa over the previous 10 years has been horrific. I
thought of Lord of the Flies by
Saint starts pulling at threads of
information. He calls upon the computer skills of his nephew, Anatole, to aid
him in the investigation.
In the first book of the series, When the Saints Go Marching In, I had difficulty with disbelief. With The Women of Skawa Island, while ultimately the story came
together I found myself really struggling to suspend enough disbelief. In the book
there is no contact with the 112 people left on the island for 10 years. The
island is a decent size and but 50 km from Tubuai. To think there was no
contact was very difficult for me. It is much harder to have a deserted island
story set in the 21st century than it was for books set centuries ago as in Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson.
After brief appearances at the
beginning of the book and their rescue the women of Skawa island do not become
actual characters until approximately 200 pages into the book. I wish they had been given a greater role earlier.
I was glad to see the members of Saint's family playing an important part in the story. They are intriguing characters.
As with all the works of fiction Anthony has written he works into the plot stops in different parts of the world. As a disaster recovery agent Saint has good reason to be familiar with locations as diverse as Estonia and New Orleans.
The whole premise of the recovery
disaster agent remains intriguing. They travel the world helping citizens of their respective countries in disaster situations. I wish Saint would undertake such a rescue operation in the next book of the series.
At this time I regret to say Adam Saint has not captured my reading enthusiasm as Russell Quant engaged me. I think The Women of Skawa Island is the weakest of the books Anthony has written.
Adam Saint series - (2013) - When the Saints Go Marching In