A wealth of characters get tangled in J.P. Lane’s A Tangled Web as drugs, violence and corruption flood a beautiful Caribbean island. The intense Englishness of a one-time banana republic is nicely portrayed in the dialog and attitudes of honest police and officials. But a very un-English war is brewing as South American contacts move their illegal wares. When innocent tourists get caught in the cross-fire, the cover-up uncovers more than it hides.
Not really a beach novel, this story has the sort of complex plot that require careful and undistracted attention from the reader. New protagonists appear with each new chapter and wait to be slotted into place. New plot twists leak from a phone call, secret message or wrong turn of phrase. And the good guys are as hard to identify as strangers in line at immigration.
Appropriately, I read this story on a plane heading to England. The author’s description of Border Control rings very true, and the novel’s characters felt very like those strangers in line with me. The author is quick to tell the surface of her characters’ thoughts, adding backstories and well-researched historical detail, but keeping what lies beneath as mystery, waiting its time.
Quick switches in point of view reminded me of English writing more than American—appropriate given the English background and history. The romantic thread and entanglement is nicely done, and journalist Lauren becomes a quite enjoyable protagonist as the story progresses into fights against gangsters, politicians and assassins, and especially as Lauren’s love succumbs to doubt. The novel speeds up when the tangles ease, but its beginnings might require patience to follow this very tangled web.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to get a free ecopy when this novel was offered on a deal.