Harbor Island sounded kind of fun. The heroine is the granddaughter of a famous art detective, and she’s an FBI agent on the trail of a serial art their. The hero is part of the same FBI team. Stolen art! Dead bodies! Boston! Ireland! It’s sounds great, but it’s actually convoluted and, more than occasionally, boring. Color me disappointed.
What you need to know going in is that there are a lot of characters, and if you haven’t read the other books in the series you won’t really understand their back stories in any meaningful way. That will not stop any of them from popping up all of the time. Conveniently (for them), they all seem to travel back and forth between Ireland, Boston, and Maine with little regard to time or cost. Must be nice.
The gist of the story is that Emma Sharpe, granddaughter of Wendell Sharpe the famous art detective, former nun, and now FBI operative in love with another FBI operative, is on the trail of a mysterious thief who stole a celtic cross and now leaves tiny celtic cross replicas every time he steals something else. Emma and her grandfather have been following the case for the past decade, and matters appear to be heating up. Emma receives an excited phone call from Rachel Bristol, who wants to meet Emma alone on a remote island. Personally, I thought Rachel should have known when she made the phone call that she was going to be dead within the hour, but apparently Rachel has never read a mystery/suspense book or even seen an episode of Murder, She Wrote. Sort of odd since she’s a wealthy Hollywood producer, but whatever. Anyway, Emma arrives on the island to find Rachel dead and she too is surprised, which probably indicates that she doesn’t watch much TV either.
From this point, the book loosely covers what seemed like the least interesting police/FBI investigation I’d ever seen. I’m not really sure how you make murder and international art theft dull, but it happened here. Emma and Colin talk with Rachel’s family, which involves an ex-husband, step-daughter, and bodyguard who seems to have some sort of romantic relationship with the stepdaughter. Meanwhile, there are several subplots involving members of the FBI team and the man who leads it, whose wife is injured while she’s in Ireland in a way that appears to tie back to the case. There are other people tied up in it all, including a beautiful, brooding artist with an almost unpronounceable Celtic name (they said how to pronounce it, but I kept forgetting anyway), and Irish whiskey brewer turned priest, and several of Colin’s brothers.
If you don’t already know these people, you won’t feel very invested in their intrigues. And clearly, you are already supposed to be invested, because the book is more about them than it is about art theft or murder. Since I felt so detached from them all, all I could do was doggedly finish the book while wondering idly why it was so hard to remember that Heron’s Cove was in Maine and Declan’s Cross was in Ireland. I could never quite keep track of who was where, why they were there, and why the reader should care.
I’d recommend this to people who care about Emma, Colin, and friends already. And basically, to no one else. If you’re looking for a suspenseful pageturner, you should keep on looking.