I tug at the bottom of my skin-tight Lycra dress. The cameras are now rolling, the show has begun, and it isn’t my intention for the first thing they capture of me to be my bum. I had intended to be a bit more low-key on the island but this dress was left on my bed with a note saying, A party dress for a party girl. Show the audience how the girls from Liverpool bring it. So low-key wasn’t an option.
As the TV series Love Island comes to a close, it’s got to be the right moment to look at this quite splendid new book.
Love Island is a reality show which has been a huge success in the UK over the past few years – good-looking young people are thrown together in a sunshine villa somewhere, and wander round wearing show-off and minimal clothes, making and breaking relationships. I think many other countries have their own versions.
SV Leonard has taken the idea of such a reality show, and built upon it an excellent crime novel.
--though feel I should stress here that the contents of the book bear NO RESEMBLANCE to the actual Love Island, and the pictures I have chosen are purely for entertainment purposes. NO murders in the real Love Island!
This is the publisher’s description of The Islanders:
Kimberley King has spent the last five years trying to outrun the reason she left the police force. Her life is a mess and she’s desperate for change. So when she is randomly selected for the new series of the hit show LoveWrecked, she can’t pass up the chance to win the £100,000 prize. All Kimberley needs to do is couple up with one of her fellow contestants, win the infamous LoveWrecked challenges, and she will have enough cash for a fresh start. But the island isn’t the paradise she was promised and within hours, one of the contestants is dead. Then the announcement comes: one of the islanders is a murderer and Kimberley must find out who, live on television. For every hour it takes her, one more person will die.
So the idea for The Islanders is brilliant and simple, any crime fan can see immediately the possibilities – small circle of suspects, heightened emotions, hidden relationships, secrets from the past. It is like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None crossed with Love Island, with a touch of Hunger Games thrown in: very high concept.
And you would say that Leonard knows her stuff. Modern crime books can be gimmicky and present no great interest to real crime fiction fans, but this is a very well-constructed and well-written book, and the idea of the hot mess contestant turning into the leader is excellent.
I tear through my suitcase, cursing myself for not packing anything appropriate. Although what is appropriate in these circumstances? I settle on a pair of khaki cargo pants, pairing it with a black Lycra top. In an outfit that makes me feel more equipped to deal with the situation presented to me, I re-join the group. Carly is the only one who outwardly reacts to my mini transformation, giving me a half-raised eyebrow as I approach. There’s more where that came from. If my new attire surprises her, they’re about to be even more surprised by the shift in my tone, my new seriousness. But then what else am I meant to do?
The closed circle (as opposed to locked room) is clever, and the combination of modern tropes and traditional features very well-spliced together. There is brilliant use of social media - modern information methods work perfectly with the older plot ideas.
A really enjoyable book for all crime fans: you can find it on Kindle.
Pictures from the current Love Island series, for illustration only. I repeat – no murders there, bad behaviour limited to very specific and un-criminal areas…