Dauntless, Lisa Henry
Rating: 4 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Tags: Murder/Mystery, Humour, Some Romance, A Dog, Fluffy/Sweet Reading
Length: 101 Pages
Purchase At: amazon
Joe Nesmith leads a peaceful life as the lighthouse keeper on Dauntless Island, a small island off the coast of Australia where the occupants are proud of their mutinous history and have very long memories.
When graduate student Eddie Hawthorne comes to Dauntless, he brings with him a historical diary that might just throw everything the islanders have ever believed into disarray—and one of them might even resort to deadly measures to make sure that Eddie’s research never sees the light of day.
When Eddie is attacked, Joe is drawn in to helping him discover which of the islanders could have done such a thing. The rising attraction between them doesn’t mean anything, right? It’s just a fling. But while Joe find himself wishing more and more that Eddie could stay on Dauntless, it’s clear that somebody else wants Eddie gone, permanently. And when the attacker escalates to murder, both Joe and Eddie find themselves in danger of Dauntless Island’s bloody history repeating itself.
Dauntless is a 30 000 word novella.
When I read the blurb I immediately thought ‘shades of Pitcairn’….
And the book is shades of Pitcairn – bell ringing included. One hundred and twenty people on the island of Dauntless, about forty-nine on Pitcairn. They have different protectorates and locations but they’re similar. There’s a close and unhealthy attachment between real and fictional islands to their bloody and mutinous history and the founding father,
Fletcher Christian Josiah Nesmith. Family name means everything on the island and the furthest relation anyone is from another is third cousin. Eddie Hawthorne comes along with his backpack, bright clothes, nice smile, chatty ways, glasses, an unwelcome Dauntless connection that might just upset the applecart, and Joe hopes there could be something there between them.
Henry Jessup’s diary and history student Eddie’s thesis means something personal to the residents. No one on Dauntless likes the idea of someone meddling in their living history, their very way of life, making everyone on the island edgy and a suspect in murder. All of this is so well written. Anyone and everyone has a motive.
Two hundred years later they were still proud of their mutiny, and of the way they’d thumbed their noses at authority ever since.
The fact that everyone’s so closely related meant that practical creativity was an identifier for the locals. There are only a few surnames on Dauntless so everyone has a moniker of some description. Like Joe, he’s Red Joe as opposed to his now deceased father who was Old Joe. Then there’s Young Harry Barnes, who’s sixty-three but was the younger Harry Barnes at one stage, Fisher Harry Finch, as opposed to Little Harry Finch, and so on. It’s absolutely perfect for the community.
Ultimately this was a twofer story – a fluffy murder mystery and an insta-romance-y novella with absolutely no on page sex. It’s all told through the eyes of the rather lovable and laidback Joe Nesmith, the lighthouse keeper and great- great-great, “whatever,” grandson of the original Josiah Nesmith. Also lover of maritime flags and somewhat taciturn twenty-eight year old who finds the chatty Eddie excellent company, as well as cute. I truly liked both MCs. It’s only 107 Kindle pages but Henry manages to paint a descriptive picture of burgeoning romance, Dauntless, living in an isolated location – no doctors, hospital, police – and its quirky residents.
And there’s a dog, a black lab named Hiccup who belongs to Joe and follows them around the island, taking to Eddie straight away. Like owner like dog. I love dogs and Hiccup added an extra bit of cute to the overall story.
It was also nice to read something in my primary genre with close links to Australia – the Royal Flying Doctor Service gets a mention. Eddie going to U-Syd, my son’s university, and a friend of mine did her PhD at James Cook Uni. This felt comfy to me.
I enjoyed the humour. The banter. Eddie does ruffle some Dauntless feathers. And Joe is a Nesmith.
I only had one niggle with this novella, it needed a second pair of eyes to catch typos – things like Joe being called John, the pantry being called the panty…. It wasn’t everywhere but it occasionally made me take a second glance.
Dauntless was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours curled up on the lounge. Very light, sweet reading with a dog, a bit of romance, humour, and a cosy style murder/mystery at its heart. 4 Stars!