The Far Side of the Sun by Kate Furnivall

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The Far Side of the Sun by Kate Furnivall

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sophie Diamond
Reviewed by Sophie Diamond
Summary: A lot of scenery, a bit of romance and hardly any murder. An unconvincing account of a true murder mystery in the Bahamas in 1943.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 375 Date: December 2013
Publisher: Sphere
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0-7515-5074-0

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The Bahamas is a tropical paradise, left almost untouched by the war that’s raging on around it but the peace is disturbed one night, when a young waitress helps a man that’s been stabbed and left for dead. Mr Morrell insists that he can’t be taken to the hospital, his attackers will be waiting there, so Dodie Wyatt takes him back to her modest home and tries to save his life. Before he dies, Mr Morrell leaves Dodie with two gold coins, a name and a lot of trouble.

Ella Sandford is the wife of a prominent British Diplomat in the Bahamas. She spends her time acting the dutiful wife, fundraising for the red cross, raising troop morale and rubbing elbows with the high society at parties and the yacht club. Ella’s life passes along swimmingly until Dodie Wyatt turns up, wanting to know who Mr Morrell was and why he owed Mrs Sandford an apology and a gold coin. Ella does the only sensible thing she can: she lies and says she has never heard of a Mr Morrell. But news of Dodie’s involvement in Morrell’s death spread to the ears of the upper classes and neither Dodie nor Ella can stop themselves investigating the mystery. Why aren’t the police doing anything? Who is trying to stop Dodie interfering? Why is an American she has never met before protecting her?

When a member of top Bahamian Society, whom Mr Morrell had business dealings with, is found brutally murdered as well, Ella and Dodie wonder how high up this conspiracy goes. But they know whoever is behind it will do anything to stop them asking questions.

I was excited to pick up a book about two heroines getting embroiled in a plot of murder and corruption but the heroines are woefully disappointing characters. Dodie Wyatt, the young independant waitress, is supposed to be ‘tough’ from traumatic events in her past. Except, Furnivall never develops the impact the character’s past has had on her, you’re just told she is ‘tough’. Ella is the complete opposite, she’s the epitome of a demure lady and she’s also your average bored housewife, with a dull routine and a duller sex life.

The murder mystery of who killed Mr Morrell and who’s covering it up, is completely overshadowed by the love, no, lust story of these two women and their two strong, handsome lovers. The murders and disturbances are woven in around their love lives rather than the other way around. Ella’s love story is the more believable of the two; she moves hesitantly, cautious of the implications. But Dodie’s is a soap opera. This guy reveals who he is bit by bit and instead of running for the hills (as any normal person would) she gives him a telling off and then a cuddle. Where there could have been an atmosphere of danger, fear and excitement, Furnivall creates a damsel in distress subplot worthy of Mills and Boon.

Before I picked up this book, I was unaware that it is partially based around a real unsolved murder of a member of high society in the Bahamas. I wish this murder had been explored more than that of Morrell. Furnivall didn’t use the poetic license presented with an unsolved murder, instead she kept the murder on the periphery. She also introduced two well known figures, The Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, who could have played a much bigger role.

Furnivall’s eventual explanation of the murders was actually nicely plausible but there was no real build up for it. The clues aren’t woven in subtly, you’re just told dollops of information here and there which comes together in a blob at the end. The lack of tension is very disappointing. There’s also not a lot of opportunity for the reader to play along and solve the murder first.

This is a love story with a bit of murder and personally I would have found it more interesting had it been a murder story with a bit of romance. If you’re looking for a light beach read with a bit of romance this book is ok for you. If you’re looking for a murder mystery, I’d pick a different book.

If you’re looking for wartime fiction with a bit more bite, you’ll enjoy The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. We also have a review of Furnivall's The Concubine's Secret.

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Buy The Far Side of the Sun by Kate Furnivall at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Far Side of the Sun by Kate Furnivall at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Far Side of the Sun by Kate Furnivall at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Far Side of the Sun by Kate Furnivall at


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