The best mysteries set on a tropical island

Sharon Ward Author Of In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller
By Sharon Ward

Who am I?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.


I wrote...

In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

What is my book about?

Underwater, Fin is a supremely competent young woman. On land, not so much. She has problems in every part of her life, from her scheming ex-husband to her career as chief underwater photographer at the oceanographic institute founded by her mother. She's got very few friends and no love life to speak of. But her troubles really escalate the day of the first accident...

The books I picked & why

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Deep Shadow

By Nick Sullivan,

Book cover of Deep Shadow

Why this book?

As a long-time diver, I was enthralled by the details of the undersea world. Set on the tropical island of Bonaire, a scuba diver’s paradise, this book introduces the reader to two great characters, divemasters Boone Fischer and Emily Durand. 

The author interweaves Boone and Emily’s budding romance with compelling descriptions of the diving and the sea life they encounter. The way the two divemasters get involved in the search for the drug submarine at the heart of the mystery is plausible. Twists and turns on every page keep the reader guessing about the fate of the sub, its crew, the cruise ship, and most critically, the two highly appealing divemasters who use every skill they have to avert disaster. I was instantly hooked on the series.


No Virgin Island: A Sabrina Salter Mystery

By C. Michele Dorsey,

Book cover of No Virgin Island: A Sabrina Salter Mystery

Why this book?

The author sets an intricate murder mystery against the details of life on St. John in the Virgin Islands. Sabrina Salter, the ex-pat protagonist, is a wounded bird seeking solace from her troubled past by trying to start over in the tropics, but trouble—and romance—follow her.

Details about life on the island make it clear that the author spent a lot of time on St. John and loves the island deeply. I didn’t guess who the murderer was until the very end, although the clues were there. I really like Sabrina and her dog, and the hunky Neil is a fitting romantic partner. 

This book had everything I like—friends, lovers, local color, and a juicy murder. I was captivated from page one.


Twelve Mile Bank: AJ Bailey Adventure Series - Book One

By Nicholas Harvey,

Book cover of Twelve Mile Bank: AJ Bailey Adventure Series - Book One

Why this book?

The Cayman Islands are my favorite place in the world, so a mystery featuring a female divemaster on Grand Cayman is right up my alley. AJ Bailey, the protagonist, is a realistic portrayal of a woman in a man’s world. Many books in the tropical islands have female protagonists, but they are often gun-toting, knife-wielding super-models, not realistic women like Harvey’s protagonist. 

The diving details are spot on; the dive site descriptions are accurate; and the thrilling story will keep you turning pages to the very end. A great start to a super series.


Fields' Guide to Dirty Money

By Julie Mulhern,

Book cover of Fields' Guide to Dirty Money

Why this book?

I’m a huge fan of all Julie Mulhern’s lighthearted books, and this one, set on Grand Cayman, is no exception. Poppy Fields, wealthy socialite, fashion icon, and undercover spy, gets dragged into an investigation into money laundering while attending her movie star mother’s destination wedding.

This isn’t the first in the Poppy Field’s series, but it’s one of the best.


The Firm

By John Grisham,

Book cover of The Firm

Why this book?

The Firm was published in 2010, but it’s still on my list of all-time favorites. The protagonist is an idealistic young law school graduate who gets dragged into shady dealings and money laundering on Grand Cayman when he accepts a lucrative job at a law firm. Almost immediately, he’s contacted by the FBI, who want to turn him into an undercover agent to help them get the goods on the firm. But the firm has made it plain that both Mitch and his young wife will die if there’s so much of a whiff of a double cross.

This novel was made into a movie starring Tom Cruise, but in my opinion, the book is 10,000 times better.


2 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in scuba diving, the Tropics, and islands?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about scuba diving, the Tropics, and islands.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Girl Beneath the Sea, Into the Planet, and Deep if you like this list.