Nothing ever happens on Tarawa, a coral atoll in the middle of the Pacific. Then a mutilated body is found in a children's nursery hut. Detective Sergeant Louisa Townsend from Edinburgh is on the island helping train local police officers in basic detecting skills. She is asked to find the killerand jumps at the chance to be in charge of her first murder investigation. She marvels at the simplicity of the task ahead- after all, how difficult can it be to find the murderer on a desert island the size of a postage stamp and with only one road? But nothing on Tarawa is what it seems. There is a rumour that the victims eyes were eaten as part of a macabre, cannibalistic ritual and a second body is found and third death looks suspicious. With no forensics on Tarawa and no one telling the truth, Louisa begins to worry she's out of her depth- not to mention the voices in her head have started up again. DS Townsend is an engaging, new female detective from Edinburgh, who is impetuous as she is ambitious, with an innate sense of justice at her core. Her determination is matched only by her struggle to overcome and obsessive compulsive disorder, which threatens to consume her.
The book is set on the tiny island of Tarawa, Louisa is originally from the island but she is visiting from Edinburgh where she now lives and works. Her job is to teach local police basic detecting skills but when a man is found dead with his eyes gouged out, she is put in charge of a full blown murder investigation. However, this is not Edinburgy; Louisa really has her work cut out, there is no forensic unit and her colleagues don't have a clue how to investigate anything. As more bodies begin piling up, Louisa is majorly under pressure.
I found this book really interesting, the island setting adds a totally different element to the standard detective story; it adds a lot of humour due to Louisa finding herself in so many bizarre situations. Her OCD makes her job even harder but makes her character more interesting, her problem is quite individual, it was a breath of fresh air compared to the drink problem or recent divorce that most fictional detectives are experiencing.
Food of Ghosts reminded me a little of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. As with those books, the case being investigated is interesting but it is the setting and the characters which make the book.
Dot Scribbles Rating: 4/5
Many thanks to Marianne Wheelaghan for sending me a copy of the book, it is out now!