BOOK CLUB: Murder in the Pacific: Ifira Point

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[Total: 4 Average: 4.3]

Murder in the Pacific: Ifira Point by Matt Francis is an interesting mystery with a strong sense of place.

Sergeant George Long of the Vanuatu Police begins his working day listening to the local news. That’s how he finds out that 12-year-old Esther Paul has been reported missing. Although he looks into it, his initial assumption is that she’s with a friend or relative. It’s not uncommon.

However, two days later her body is found. It’s not clear whether it was an accident or murder, but the circumstances suggest murder. George and his assistant, Constable Jayline Oli, begin investigating with more fervour.

The novel is told from George’s viewpoint, meaning that he’s the character we get to know best. Although it builds up gradually, it’s a strong depiction of someone who enjoys where he lives but is aware of its shortcomings and problems.

He knows, for example, that a murder would be investigated very differently in countries with more resources. For the reader, this means the crime is largely investigated through talking rather than forensics. As a result, we also see a good deal of Vanuatu’s culture and community. This is an interesting insight into a culture that works quite differently from Australia’s. For a start, most of us would not take the idea of corruption or wasted government funds quite so much in our stride.

There is a very strong sense of place in the novel. Vanuatu and its people are vividly depicted. Their way of life is a vital part of the investigation and adds life and colour.

I felt that characters other than George were generally very lightly developed. Perhaps only Jayline fully comes to life. However, the light sketches other characters get are quite effective and work well with this relatively straightforward plot and story.

For most readers, this will be an enjoyable read which gives them an insight into Vanuatu and its’ people along with a murder mystery and some appealing characters.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Murder in the Pacific: Ifira Point by Matt Francis. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Murder in the Pacific: Ifira Point

  1. Murder in the pacific
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Big Sky Publishing for my copy to read and review.

    Having been to Vanuatu a couple of times I was really interested in reading this book. Reading it I could picture the settings which was really enjoyable.

    George and Jayline, of the Vanuatu police force, are determined to find out what happened to Esther, a 12 year old, who is found floating with a head wound.

    The story follows their investigation to determine whether it was an accident or foul play.

    I enjoyed this easy to read and follow book. Basic characters so was easy to know who was who.

  2. Ifira a point by Matt Frances was a great read. Twist and turns throughout and suspenseful. I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more of Matt’s work when it comes out.

  3. I visited Vanuatu earlier this year for a wonderful holiday. We explored like crazy and fell in love with the country and the lovely people. Matt Francis says this book is his ‘…love letter to the Pacific island state of Vanuatu and its people. I love its strength and flaws in equal measure.’ This love shows in the book, which hooked me immediately. Having been there so recently I could visualise most of the locations, and loved the way George and Jayline (police) were slowly built up as characters.

    Investigating a murder in Vanuatu happens differently from somewhere like Australia, and George and Jayline were incredibly resourceful – and tenderly respectful to the victim and family – in the way they went about it, both with their limited resources but their extended people network. I thoroughly enjoyed the humour, that was unexpected and rather like Alexander McCall Smith writes with his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. In all a thoroughly entertaining read. I’ll be looking out for more from this author, and hopefully more of George and Jayline.

    Many thanks to Beauty & Lace and Big Sky Publishing for the review copy.

  4. This book is set in Vanuatu where police inspector, George Long, investigates the disappearance of a missing 12-year-old girl. George doesn’t believe she’s simply taken off or is staying at a friend’s house, and he’s forced to deal with not only her family but politics and the Australian High Commission as well. He is frustrated by his lack of experience, as well as the lack of adequate transport and forensics, but he is determined to find justice for the girl.
    It’s set in the area where the locals live, rather than the tourist areas, and includes very detailed descriptions of the streets, buildings and relentless heat. The Vanuatu culture is presented authentically and there are also references to cruise ships and the impact that tourists have, as well as Australian and Chinese aid. Some of this aid is welcomed (hospitals, for example) but others remain white elephants (the Convention Centre).
    The plot moves slowly, somewhat like the Vanuatu lifestyle. I found the ending quite shocking after the gentle pace and I wonder if the author considered a different resolution.
    There are romantic sub-plots for both of the police officers which add a layer of interest and sometimes humour.
    Thanks to Big Sky Publishing and Beauty & Lace for this book.

  5. Matt Francis wrote a great short novel, beautifully describing the ups and downs of typical life for Vanuatu policeman George and his “unofficial assistant” Jayline. The reader follows the journey they go on solving the case of Esther Paul’s death. Matt gives the reader insight into the culture, foreign presence, politics and corruption in Vanuatu. It gave me a great insight into Vanuatu and particularly Vila, making me look at this popular cruise destination (that I’ve travelled to) through different eyes.

    You can feel the love and sense of community through his words, truly capturing how people feel about their homes. You love it, but you still see the bad, but because you love the place, the people, you stay. And work hard to make it better.

    The first few chapters are slow moving in setting up the story but Francis lightened the mood by putting a lot of dry humor. A line on page 2 had me laughing out loud “Jeffrey was going to die anyway so what was the big deal if it was today and not in a few more years”.

    I normally don’t read crime books, but this one unexpectedly captured and held my attention, that I read through the book in a few hours.

    I had the honour of reviewing this book thanks to Beauty and Lace Magazine and Big Sky Publishing

  6. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the offer to review Murder in the Pacific: Ifira Point by Matt Francis.

    The book centres around twelve year old Esther Paul. Esther goes missing and is unaccounted for even after a broadcast on the local radio. Unfortunately a couple of days later Esther is found drifting in the sea.

    The case is being investigated by Senior Constable George Wong of the National Police Force with Probationary Constable Jayline Oli. With the wound Esther has sustained and not a lot of forensics in Vanuatu, their investigation also includes whether it was an accident or not.

    I have not been to Vanuatu so I liked the descriptions of the way of life there including culture and diplomacy. The book is from George’s perspective which I enjoyed. I did find it a bit slow moving but it was a good read.

  7. Senior Constable George Wong works a bit different to other officers, the thought of work smarter, not harder in play. But he teaches also, his Constable Jayline Oli. Using news reports as a cue for what to look into, they join the morning report each day. This seconds as a focus for George as he enjoys the soothing tones of the newsreader too. Today’s news, a missing boat & a missing girl.
    Its a different way of working in the Vanuatu islands. The descriptions outlining a harder place to live, to work, an environment of heat & politics. Australians, Chinese and other nations all wanting their piece of this paradise.
    Join George & Jayline as they put the pieces together, they follow the clues and think outside the box to solve the two crimes. One becoming a murder investigation, the other a dead end…
    I enjoyed this read, it was a good escape to a different place, though the thoughts popped in and out of my head during the story, I did not quite see the ending as it occurred. I do like a book with a twist. Thank you Big sky publishing, Matt Francis and Beauty & Lace for a fun read.

  8. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Murder In The Pacific Ifira Point by Matt Francis.

    I really enjoyed this easy read murder mystery.

    With likeable characters this is a great story.

    Set in Vanuatu, this story takes you into the community and shows you how tough it is to live on this island and how it is struggling but the families share and barter to keep everyone’s bellies full and roof’s over their heads.

    A 12 year old girl is murdered, but who would want to harm a child?

    I will definitely be looking for Matt’s other books

    Highly recommend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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