The pace was way too slow to be satisfying and the ending felt inconclusive Interesting setting, place, and time disappointing characters. OK, so the description of this story hit multiple hot buttons Historical Fiction, Detective Thriller, supernatural, and Peculiar Locale Strangely enough, I had also came across a reference to the Coconut Cult that features in this book while studying the occupation of Imperial German Pacific colonies during WWI I decided to give this story a try I m glad I did.Prose was good Dialog was better than descriptive prose The author goes to some length to use Victorian period vernacular I liked the antique turns of phrase in the spoken dialog However, there were errors in diction and the inner dialog tended to be in modern vernacular There was a multiple POV narration This was handled in an OK fashion, but could have been better I thought that the introduction of the different narrators in sequence was not done as well as it could be Descriptive prose is also in Period Although, I detected modern sensibilities in the descriptions Sex is abstracted, but not entirely heteronormative It s written tastefully Violence is not graphic and with a minimum of gore Body count is low.Note a part of this story is Victorian period edu tainment There is a fair amount of period social interaction, politics, pharmacology, military tech, and literature exposed For example, the character s name drop Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle in conversation during a heavy for the tropics formal dinner Historically, Conan Doyle s stories borrowed from Collins Characters were good The narrators included Prior, Pullen Burry, and Siwa Prior is a bit of clich for this type of story He s a PTSD suffering, dishonorably discharged, military policeman, of good family , going native on the back side of civilization Miss Pullen Burry is yet another clich for this type of story She s a flavor of theLady of Adventuremasquerading as a spinster travel writer She s also of good family Siwa is interesting She s Prior s Papuan, missionary trained, servant and lover She s a variation on the Mystical NegroMajor supporting characters were Kessler and The Sonnenorden of Kabakon Coconut Cultists Kessler is an Imperial German soldier acting in a civil police role, gutting out a very bad duty station There s a lot ofKaiserreich in his role The Coconut Cultists are a vaguelyAleister Crowley like cult with an authoritarian yet charismatic leader They re the pool of potential antagonists Frankly, they reminded me of Germans from the inter War period than before WWI Finally, the author puts some backspin on all the characters to keep them from being other than vanilla flavors of their trope I embraced the clich s in my reading of this book.Plot is straight forward Prior gets dragooned into conducting a police investigation of an Imperial German citizen on the Coconut Cultist s remote island with Kessler Miss Pullen Burry comes along There is the inevitable clash of sensibilities view spoiler The story has a somewhat Murder on the Orient Express conclusion hide spoiler FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE TROUBLES TRILOGY AND DETECTIVE SEAN DUFFY NOVELSColonial New Guinea A Small Group Of Mostly German Nudists Live An Extreme Back To Nature Existence On The Remote Island Of Kabakon Eating Only Coconuts And Bananas, They Purport To Worship The Sun One Of Their Members Max Lutzow Has Recently Died, Allegedly From Malaria But An Autopsy On His Body In The Nearby Capital Of Herbertsh He Raises Suspicions About Foul PlayRetired British Military Police Officer Will Prior Is Recruited To Investigate The Circumstances Of Lutzow S Death At First, The Eccentric Group Seems Friendly And Willing To Cooperate With The Investigation They All Insist That Lutzow Died Of Malaria Despite Lack Of Evidence For A Murder, Prior Is Convinced That The Group Is Hiding SomethingThings Come To A Head During A Late Night Feast Supposedly Given As A Send Off For The Visitors Before They Return To Herbertsh He Prior Fears That The Intent Of The Celebration Is Not To Fete The Visitors But To Make Them The Latest Murder Victims An odd one this I bought it because Adrian McKinty wrote it Having been out of touch for a few months, it snuck up on me, I didn t know McKinty had another novel on the way Miles away, both thematically and geographically, from what I expected for a McKinty book this story of a little known unknown to me colony of sun worshipping German immortality seekers at the start of the 20th Century probably would not have attracted my attention was McKinty not one of my favourite writers But it is a fascinating tale of colonialism, cults and murder which McKinty, with few stumbles a reference to Sherlock Holmes seems a little forced handles incredibly well Through the eyes of his fairly ineffectual hero, an ex British soldier recovering from the horrors of the Boer war, Adrian explores the mystery of the cocovores on a South Pacific island whose belief that the secret of eternal life is in coconuts and sunbathing with a little sprinkling of heroin leads to at least one suspicious death On the way McKinty touches on European empire building, strange Victorian thinking on medicine and health, the tensions leading to the Great War and beyond The climax is something of a twist and works very well The characters are very well drawn The tone reminded my a lot of Dan Simmons The Terror , a book I love.I am a McKinty fan and, as an Ulsterman, I love his Irish noir The Sun Is God is something of a departure but it is perhaps Adrian McKinty s best novel yet. A curious little book, partly based on true historical events in German Colonial New Guinea in the early part of the 20th Century Will Prior is an ex British army military policeman who has fled from the world, disillusioned and haunted by atrocities from his time in the Boer War He has gone native and is living idly on a failed plantation with his live in housekeeper mistress, when he is asked to investigate the suspicious death of a member of a cult on a nearby island The cult, which believes that they can achieve immortality by eternal sun bathing sun worshippping, and eating only coconuts, has had quite a few members die Malaria, they allege, but the local German government is not so sure So Will, along with a German army captain, and.an Englishwoman foisted on them by the owner of the island a true historical figure apparently , go to the island to investigate What they find is a strange cult nudist, sun worshipping, and rejecting the modern ways of the 20th century Not a traditional whodunnit, and quite different to Adrian McKinty s other action packed books set in Ireland and America Did have some personal interest for me, as the setting in New Guinea was exactly where I lived for a couple of years in my childhood in what is now Papua New Guinea Kokopo and Rabaul The depictions of the life on the island, with the oppressive humidity, the malaria, and the life of the colonials, did evoke similar memories in me, despite the time difference of 80 years.Not a bad little book, but can t help feeling that Mr McKinty, having happened upon an interesting historical event, just decided to make it into a book, without much further thought than that. This is going to have to be another one of those reviews that comes with a disclaimer I love Adrian McKinty s books Although I will admit that it s always been the dark side, his flawed and controversial characters, and his noir stylings that I d thought appealed particularly.THE SUN IS GOD is none of that and yet there are glimpses Based on elements of a true story, set in 1906 New Guinea, this is the tale of the investigation into the death of a man on a remote island in the midst of a community of nudist, back to nature Cocovores They eat only coconuts and bananas as they grow at the top of trees and are therefore close to the Sun They spend days sunbathing, they live in a weird sort of Ikea style village of odd little pre fab cottages, supported by local servants, and, whilst they are a small community, they make up for that with large bucket loads of odds.Before all of that starts though, the reader is introduced to retired British military policeman Will Prior, who after serving during the Boer War ends up in the Germany colony of Herbertsh he in the middle of the New Guinea islands He has a loving relationship with a local woman who serves as his housekeeper, keeps himself a little distant from the mostly German ex pat community, and is somewhat bemused to find himself pressed into investigative service in the pursuit of the truth of Max Lutzow s death.Needless to say oddity by the bucket loads told in a most engaging manner The central characters Prior local government representative, and fellow investigator Hauptmann Kessler and Bessie Pullen Burry, intrepid lady traveller and reporter, shine Glow and not just from sunburn Somehow the oddness of the community into which they are thrust becomes endearing, and yet slightly threatening when viewed through Prior s eyes Whilst the story is littered with eccentric characters, there are no caricatures Even the favoured community tipple of Bayer aspirin and heroin well of course a bunch of people who believe in eating only Coconuts are going to have a drink like that Of course.Echoing much of the true story, McKinty warns at the commencement that there are some fictional characters, and some fictional elements, but in the main, the book follows the facts, as they are known The deaths that took place on Kabakon during this period haven t been solved, although there s nothing held back in exploring or investigating the possibilities Whilst the subject matter, the setting, and the characters are very different from that which fans of Adrian McKinty s books could normally expect, it s what reminds you that aside from anything else, this author can write Because it s much lighter THE SUN IS GOD is just the ticket for readers who find the darker side too much, but it also works for those of us who don t care Especially those of us who would happily stump up to the clich and read the author s shopping list should he be tempted to publish it.http www.austcrimefiction.org revie The Sun Is God by Adrian McKinty is small historical mystery novel, centered around a secluded cult of sun worshipers in Colonial New Guinea in the early 1900s.A group of nudists, mostly Germans, who live mainly on a diet of coconuts and bananas on the remote island of Kabakon, spend their existence worshiping the sun Their belief that this extreme lifestyle will somehow grant them immortality and that the outside world can only contaminate their goals But when the death of one of their members appears to have happened under suspicious circumstances, they find their quiet and hidden lives about to be revealed.Will Prior is a retired military officer in the British Army who has exiled himself to these remote islands when he is recruited by the German government to investigate the death The islanders claim the death was caused by malaria but an autopsy revealed something far dire The corpse was a victim of drowning.Prior is sent to the island to uncover the truth, but days pass, he begins to suspect that the islanders are not at all what they appear and he may soon become the next victim.I am a huge fan of Adrian McKinty s Sean Duffy novels of Ireland the times of the Troubles If you want gritty well written crime novels centered in Ireland at the time when the civil war was raging, then the Sean Duffy novels are for you The Sun Is God is a departure from these books and is a stand alone historical mystery that unfortunately lacks the narrative that drives McKinty s other books Will Prior is a good character and the back story of his time in battle and his subsequent discharge and trouble dealing with what must be post traumatic stress and alcoholism is well structured Prior would be a good character to create a series around My issue is that The Sun Is God loses focus when Prior and his group land on the island among the cult Its as if their addiction to drugs and lack of nutrition creates a daze that the narrative falls into So that it is difficult to follow Like trying to make sense from a drunk storyteller There is a lot of interesting history here, in a forgotten place and time It might have been better served with a larger novel and deeper detailed.A small novel like this shouldn t lose its way and McKinty is a far better writer than what this book shows. This McKinty book is a bit of departure from his usual fayre, in both its setting and era The narrative takes place in 1906 on the German colonial island of Kabakon, part of German New Guinea, and features former British military policeman Will Prior, now a rubber plantation manager, who thanks to his past experience is asked to investigate the death of a member of a group called the Cocovores, a group of nudists who live on the island, worship the sun, and eat nothing but coconut Bizarre The fact that the case actually did exist makes it all the intriguing.I have issues with many of McKinty s NI based novels, thanks to their far fetched storylines, but I was freed from that this time, and enjoyed what was a pretty short book McKinty did a pretty good job in bringing the colony, with all its strange ideas and customs to life, as well as portraying the early 20th century hangups and beliefs of Prior and his civilised compatriots, though don t be expecting a neatly tied up ending as you often do in a crime novel, based on fact like this one is.A novel that I probably wouldn t have bothered with had it not been a Daily Deal from Audible, but one that I found enjoyable. This excellent historical mystery is based upon real events and real individuals although the author admits that he has put the interests of the novel before historical accuracy Will Prior was a Lieutenant in the Boer War, until an event which, although it led to him being honoured for his actions, leaves him traumatised and disillusioned That is why, two years later, he is living a rather idle life in Herbertshohe, in far off German New Guinea With someone to manage the small plantation he has borrowed the money for and cared for by his native servant girl, Siwa, he enjoys a quiet life His pleasant and comfortable existence comes to an end one day when he is approached by Hauptman Kessler and offered a substantial fee to look into the suspected murder of Max Lutzow a music critic, journalist, concert pianist and member of a sect of sun worshippers on Kabakon Island The community of Cocovores, led by August Engelhardt, believe that a life of nudity, sunbathing and a strict vegetarian diet of coconuts and bananas, will give them immortality However, it doesn t seem to have worked very well so far, as three members of the small group have died of suspected malaria, with Lutzow the third Accompanied by English woman Miss Pullen Burry, Prior and Kessler head for Kabakon Island to investigate They find a group of characters who delight in healthy breakfasts of bananas, accompanied by heroin, and drinks laced with opium The real delight of this book is not only in the exotic, South Pacific location, but in the wonderfully eccentric characters Can Will Prior manage to untangle what happened in the isolated community and how far will the Sonnenorden or sun worshippers go to protect their way of life It is a fine day Kessler said It had rained for eight hours solid during the night, mosquitoes were in swarm, the heat and humidity were almost unbearable.Will Prior war damaged Yorkshireman a former military policeman on the run from the horrific events of the Boer War has fled to German New Guinea, hoping to escape his past and live a quiet life running a rubber plantation And so he does, until his friend and neighbour, Kessler a German officer, always in uniform, to whom everything German is by its very nature superior arrives and offers Will a hefty fee for his help Max Lutzow, a member of the Sonnenorden cult, has died in suspicious circumstances He may have been murdered.I rarely read detective fiction it s really not my thing at all This one slipped past my radar on account of the fabulous cover and intriguing blurb it was only some time later that I realised this was a crime novel being, ostensibly, about the search for a presumed murderer , but all that rather slipped my mind most of the time I was reading it I was too busy enjoying the terrific characters and laugh out loud banter between them, the unusual setting of German Papua New Guinea at the turn of the 20th century, and the decidedly odd subject of murder amongst the real life , Sun worshipping, nudist cult of the Sonnenorden of Kabakon who believed that a diet of coconuts, bananas and heroin would grant them immortality The only time my enjoyment slipped was the very end, which after the previous slow ride through gloriously evocative, descriptive and very funny chapters seemed so rushed and violent a suddenly shoehorned element of mystery and a twist that didn t really work for me but I never once cared who actually dunnit, or why, or anything about any of that, to be honest For me, it was all about the setting, and the characters the characters most of all Kessler is quietly fascinating not enough was made of his sexuality, which became a mere interesting aside, dropped into the narrative for no apparent reason I was expecting of him, but I enjoyed what I got Will, by contrast, is a very masculine character who, in time honoured colonial tradition, has taken his devoted native housekeeper to his bed He has an hilarious and typically male obsession with penis size on naked Kabakon, especially Harry von Cadolzburg s enormous willy, like the albino stoat Sergeant Mulvenny had kept as a rat catcher in South Africa. Miss Pullen Burry a stolid Englishwoman on an adventure, who throws herself into the ways of the Sonnenorden to an astonishing degree for a supposed Victorian virgin was greatest of them all so wonderfully evoked, she was the only one who managed to surprise me.But they were all, even the maddest of them, likeable and fascinating characters I would have gone on reading about them in a novel twice the length This is the first Adrian McKinty I ve read I believe his usual work is very different violent crime fiction of the gore and guts kind not my thing at all, which is probably why I ve never come across him before, but I ll definitely be looking out for his future work, if it s anything like as good as The Sun is God.
Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school Eng
- 240 pages
- The Sun Is God
- Adrian McKinty
- 19 June 2019 Adrian McKinty