My rating: 4 of 5 stars
RUM LUCK: A Bar on the Beach Mystery is the debut novel of Ryan Aldred. It is an accomplished effort, promising more to come from this Canadian native.
Ben Cooper’s wedding goes bust after he discovers his ex-fiance is obsessed with clowns, and not in a good way. Ben takes advantage of their pre-paid honeymoon arrangements in Costa Rica, taking along his buddy, Miguel.
He arrives in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, gets rum drunk, buys a bar on the beach using funds from a shared account with his ex-fiance, and gets himself arrested for murder. Things are not going as Ben expected in Costa Rica.
Arriving to the rescue from Toronto comes his friend and attorney, Victoria Holmes, freeing Ben from jail, and seeing if she can make sense of the fact that the man Ben’s accused of murdering is the former bar owner, Antonio.
Since Ben can’t go anywhere because the authorities have his passport, he decides to see if he can make a go of it with the bar. Ben finds that necessary repairs on the bar building and equipment will have him bankrupt in six weeks. He decides to try an idea he had of providing an amusement service to people who want to pretend to run a bar for a week. Miguel and Victoria throw in with him and their first client is Miguel’s Uncle Enrico, who takes to his “bar management” opportunity very seriously.
However, strange things are still occurring at the bar. Late-night visitors are searching for something, and accidents seem to be happening to Ben and Miguel with regularity. The police aren’t making any progress on finding another suspect, nor are they being very receptive to Ben trying to make a go of running Antonio’s.
What is Ben to do? He decides to do some investigating of his own, with Victoria and Miguel’s assistance, and Uncle Enrico’s enthusiastic meddling. Much danger and fun ensue.
Ryan Aldred has assembled an interesting cast of characters to populate his entertaining story. The bar environment allows him to introduce a host of varied personalities and situations that propel his story along. He does an excellent job creating the vibe of a tropical beachside bar scene, so much so that you’ll find yourself rocking to the ear-splitting music, enjoying the raucous conversations, and turning your nose up at the smells endemic to a busy bar.
When I finished reading this excellent debut from Ryan Aldred, I pulled up Google Maps and checked out the Tamarindo Diria where Ben and Miguel had stayed. It’s right there, a block away from the casino.
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