A Matter of Latitude
From the acclaimed author of The Drago Tree comes a riveting thriller about survival, revenge and long-hidden secrets.
When local Lanzarote anti-corruption activist, Celestino, is T-boned on a lonely stretch of road, he knows the collision was no accident.
Wounded and fearing for his life, he hides in an abandoned fishing village, waiting for a chance to make it home. Meanwhile his wife, English expat Paula, is distraught. Her pursuit of answers is deflected when her neighbor, troublesome retiree Shirley Mobad, co-opts Paula on her escapades around the Canary Islands.
Paula’s search for her husband quickly descends into mayhem, danger and intrigue. Before long, she realizes she’s being followed. She needs answers, and fast.
But where is Celestino, and will he ever make it back alive?
“A Matter of Latitude simmers with danger, betrayal and treachery, drawing the reader into the island’s history of shady dealings and uneasy relationships between natives, tourists and expats… Isobel Blackthorn has crafted an atmospheric and setting-rich novel with alluring lyrical style.” – Sandi Wallace, award-winning crime fiction author
Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of original fiction across a range of genres, including psychological thrillers, gripping mysteries, captivating travel fiction and hilarious dark satire.
Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey’s life and works has culminated in the biographical novel, The Unlikely Occultist.
Isobel carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain, her former home. Many of her novels are set on the islands, including The Drago Tree, which was released in 2015 and is now in Spanish translation, Clarissa’s Warning and A Matter of Latitude. These novels are setting rich and fall into the broad genre of travel fiction, and the novels are as much stories about the islands themselves as they are straight-ahead entertainment.
Isobel has led a rich and interesting life and her stories are as diverse as her experiences, the highs and lows, and the dramas. Some of her writing is dark, like the psychological thriller, Twerk, which is based on six years of research and first-hand accounts of dancers working in what are euphemistically called gentlemen’s clubs.
A life-long campaigner for social justice, Isobel has written, protested and leant her weight to a range of issues including family violence. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives near Melbourne, Australia.
Social Media Links
This is a great read, a proper whodunnit based on corruption in what most of us will consider the idyll of Lanzarote. The story is told in first person, with alternating viewpoints from married couple Paula & Celestino (every now and then a chapter creeps in told from the viewpoint of Richard, an author wanting to write a captivating thriller – a genius move, if you ask me!)
Paula is British and after a holiday romance that didn’t die in the ether, she marries local artist, Celestino. Together they have a child, who is three years old as this story develops. Paula struggles to fit in, feeling she is stuck in a gap, being neither an expat in the truest sense of the word nor a local.
Celestino comes across as quite a moody character, with artistic temperament oozing from his pores. He feels his art is underappreciated, and despises the “need” to produce irrelevant tat for the tourist market. You see, for him, tourism has taken over his island, leaving half the island basking in the sunshine in palm-lined streets whilst the locals are ignored by council after council. All anyone seems concerned about is keeping the tourists happy, whether by fair means or foul.
Hedonism is corruption’s accomplice
The web of corruption is gradually revealed, and Celestino’s “disappearance” is only the start. (By disappearance, read: being forced off the road, over a cliff, hunted by a rabid dog and wanted by those whose fraudulent and corrupt methods he seeks to expose).
Paula is frantic when her husband doesn’t arrive home in time for their daughter’s birthday party. With everyone blaming the storm, she hopes that’s all it is. But when the land dries and Celestino is still nowhere to be found, then the mystery deepens. With her father’s help (her parents have moved to the island to be nearer to her) she sets about tracing her missing husband.
Asking the neighbours, local shop owners and everyone who knows Celestino, leaves her no further forward. But when his paintings – taken from his studio – start to appear in the unlikeliest of places, then she feels her husband has stumbled into the viper’s nest and maybe his anti-corruption activities will be the end of him.
Two characters, in particular, help to bring some relief to the dark atmosphere of this story. Firstly, Richard, the author looking for a new plot, constantly badgers Paula for ideas for his next book, since his last effort bombed. He is determined to be accurate this time. What he finds is almost the plot he could have written – a body in a remote setting. Then we have Shirley, another Brit, but one who feels she is now a local having lived on the island for so long. Shirley has her fingers in many pies, and from first inspection she seems to be doing good work for the right people – charity groups in particular. What we learn later is that Shirley is no fan of Celestino, since her own late husband was one of the few Celestino had wanted to expose.
The conclusion will keep the reader guessing on many points. Will Celestino return to his family safely? How did those paintings end up in such strange locations? Whose body did the author find? So many questions, but all nicely tied up at the end. I can thoroughly recommend this book to lovers of a good mystery.
For more news and reviews, why not take a look at these blogs too: