The St. Simons Island Club

Written by Brent Monahan
Review by Lucille Cormier

The St. Simons Island Club is the fourth in Brent Monahan’s John LeBrun mystery series. The time is 1908 and LeBrun, retired police chief of Brunswick, Georgia, has built a lucrative New York detective agency. He divides his time between home in Brunswick and work in New York City.

When LeBrun arrives in New York on a routine visit, his office manager presents him with a letter from none other than J. P. Morgan. The magnate charges LeBrun with finding the killer of a small-time New York businessman. A $500 retainer is included. However, Morgan denies sending the letter and instead hires LeBrun to track down both the sender and the killer. From here opens a complex double plot with twists and subtleties that hold attention to the end.

The book is meticulously structured and paced. Clues are planted nicely along the way. Plus the story is chock full of period information and excellent site descriptions. LeBrun’s engagement (he is a widower) and wedding to Lordis Goode softens the grim theme and provides a picture of early 20th-century social conventions. Altogether, a very enjoyable read.

One final observation: The St. Simons Island Club, as in earlier volumes in the series, blends mystery with an important social issue of the time. It doesn’t take long to realize that there is more going on here than just another big-city murder. Like Donna Leon (Inspector Brunetti) and Cara Black (Detective Aimée LeDuc), Monahan takes us into realities we’d rather not know about – but should. Their books serve as social commentaries as well as being first-rate mysteries.