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Looking for Lisa
Joseph Lisowski
The Fiction Works, 204 pp. $13.99

March 18, 2003 — There's no peace or tranquility and little beauty in Joseph Lisowski's St. Thomas, but he does know "his" St. Thomas well: the traffic, the nighttime basketball court activity, landmarks and street names, Tim Duncan, taxi drivers' commentaries.
Anyone who lives on St. Thomas cannot fault the routes taken and places visited by his pugilistic-minded protagonist, private investigator Marc Wilson, who is "Looking for Lisa" in this mystery novel. From Red Hook to Fortuna, Wilson travels through Lisowski's St. Thomas. Unlike writers who coyly describe "an unnamed paradise island" with fictitious streets and locales, Lisowski delineates the real Danish street names, Emancipation Garden, Market Square, Tickle's restaurant and the university.
Author Lisowski should know. He lived on St. Thomas, working as a professor of English at the University of the Virgin Islands, for 10 years, until 1996.
Wilson is contacted by worried father Enrico Herera, whose daughter Lisa has been missing for "two days, one hour and twenty minutes." When Enrico first comes to Wilson's place to get help, he walks in on Wilson in the backyard subduing two masked men and their .357 Magnum and machete.
The action never slows from page 1 in this fast-moving murder mystery. At first Wilson thinks Lisa's just a routine runaway teenager, but soon he encounters drugs, revenge, political blackmail, dead bodies, and more than one person who seems to wish the P.I. unwell. The reader will keep attention and eyes on this story filled with action, plot and dialogue, and find the pace never lags.
The tranquility, the beauty, and the good weather are there; Wilson notices them, especially at chapter openings. But: "The verdant hills of St. John island lay five miles ahead. And beyond, the British Virgins," he notes — and turns his attention right back to the bar and the blonde.
"The Caribbean sea met shore at Brewer's Beach … under the star speckled, moonless night." So Wilson goes for a swim, trades words with boys on the beach when he worries about his hidden gun, gets dressed and goes downtown and picks a fight with some "weed" merchants, sowing seeds for information. He climbs on his trusty steed, his yellow 750cc ninja bike and goes off in search of more action.
The reader is kept in touch with Lisa, who's playing a sort of musical chairs around the area, trying to keep out of harm's way. But in the intervals when the story segues to her locale, the action is no less intense. Secretive girlfriends, dangerous boyfriends, a murder witnessed, all keep her on the run.
Technically, the paperback is well bound, nicely sized at 8" x 5", with well spaced, legible typeface and comfortably spaced lines. The only annoyance is a too narrow inner margin, forcing the reader into a constant fight to make that last word on the leftside-page lines readable.

"Looking for Lisa" is available online through www.fictionworks.com and www.booksurge.com.

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