THE ISLAND SNATCHERS
(January 10, 2014)
Having come to Honolulu in the mid 1800s as the wife of a missionary, Anne Cartwright makes herself valued as a midwife and nurse by Hawaiians and foreigners alike after she is widowed. Taught harsh lessons by her father and husband, she vows never to put her life in any man’s keeping again. In this time of turmoil, when British, French and Americans compete for the future of the strategically important islands while pledging dubious loyalty to King Kamehameha III, Anne comes to care for the natives and fears for the future of this kingdom.
Still reeling from his father’s suicide, Dr. Matthew Cabe has sailed to Honolulu with the intention of reclaiming his father’s sugar plantation from Edward Landre, the partner who employed deceit to become its sole owner. Consumed with his own share of guilt, Matthew has no interest in the treacherous political climate. Yet he finds that the former partner is now a government minister with dangerous ambitions that may make him untouchable.
When a smallpox epidemic comes ashore, Matthew cannot help joining the battle against the dread disease that threatens to decimate the unvaccinated natives. Soon, he has a more compelling reason yet to stay – he is the principal suspect in the murder of Edward Landre, and is freed from shackles and bars only because his medical expertise is so necessary.
Allied by their professions, he and Anne Cartwright hunt a murderer even as they deliver babies in primitive conditions, befriend a daughter of Hawaiian nobility who harbors her own secrets, nurse the sick and dying, and perform surgeries possible only with recent advances in medical knowledge. And they fall in love, despite Anne’s terror of marital relations and Matthew’s inability to imagine a future amid the intrigues and treacheries shaping this still primitive kingdom so far from his native Boston.
"Hawaii in the 1800s is the setting for Johnson's latest novel. Anne Cartwright's marriage to missionary John Cartwright is unhappy, brutal, and primarily a means to escape a miserable home life. When he dies shortly after their arrival in Hawaii, Anne is afraid she will be forced to return home. Instead, she makes herself invaluable to the missionaries and natives as a midwife and nurse. Dr. Matthew Cabe comes to Hawaii to investigate his father's business losses and subsequent suicide. Together, Anne and Matthew are drawn into a fight against smallpox, crooked politicians, annexation, and even murder charges. Johnson blends historical fact and fiction, with a note at the end on the true story of Hawaii's annexation. Recommended." -Library Journal
"Historical romance at its best, with characters that breathe [and] a plot that makes sense. Not a scene rang false." -The Honolulu Advertiser