St Thomas’s Spy Hunter

Review of Spy Island; Sophie Schiller; pp 327

– Shana Susan Ninan

With a story that spans Panama and the Danish colony island St Thomas in the Caribbean, a smattering of local West Indian characters, and most of all an inquisitive spy-hunting 16-year-old, Sophie Schiller’s Spy Island is a promising read.

Abby Maduro’s life takes a turn when her parents die in an accident, and is forced to leave home and find shelter with her only relative – Aunt Esther, a rather boring and eccentric person, given to her own fancies. Abby’s only true friend is Nana Jane, the coloured housekeeper and nanny since her father’s childhood. Nana Jane is sweet and compassionate and always full of comforting words and verses from the Bible. Her island Creole is interesting, the culture and lifestyle of the island coming through well through them.

The girl bumps into a U-boat deserter in a Synagogue, goes ahead in believing his lost-at-sea story, and decides to help him by putting him up in Aunt Esther’s basement. Aunt Esther on her part hates company of any sort, let alone a man in the house! Abby’s life then is filled with exciting events, with her in the middle of them all.

A German officer she met on her journey to the island still haunts her. He’s the German Consul at St Thomas, and the unofficial head of a spy ring. He hopes to rope in Erich the war deserter and make him scapegoat for untoward incidents that happen on Transfer Day. More than half the island’s population is against the transfer of the islands to America. But the Great War makes things difficult for everyone. The ending is beautifully written, sort of an anti-climax to a romance novel. I loved it.

The conversations are very genuine, and Schiller’s words makes it almost real for us, as though we hear them as they are spoken, between the characters in the book. The story is quite a plausible one, too, as the author mentions in a note at the end.

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Rating: 7.8/10 (4 votes cast)
St Thomas’s Spy Hunter, 7.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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This entry was posted on Saturday, April 6th, 2013 at 8:59 pm and is filed under Historical Fiction, Reviews, War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. April 10th, 2013 | Sophie Schiller says:

    “Spy Island” is presently available at Amazon.com and their Indian affiliates.

    For readers who would like to see pictures of the history, art, and culture of the West Indies, please visit the author’s Facebook page:

    To read about the inspiration behind “Spy Island”, and for excerpts and personal photos from the author’s collection, please visit Sophie Schiller’s blog at:

    Please leave comments. We always love to hear from readers!
    Best Regards,
    Sophie Schiller

  2. April 14th, 2013 | Sharon says:

    Sounds interesting……would love to read it…..

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