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Murder at Point Ifira

(12 customer reviews)
Authors: Matt Francis
Crime, Fiction
153mm x 230mm

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Murder in the Pacific series

Esther Paul is 12 years old. She is reported missing on Vanuatu local radio.

Two days later her body is found floating in the sea off Ifira Point in Vanuatu. Limited forensics means Sergeant George Long and Constable Jayline Oli do not know if they are investigating a murder or accident. A head wound would suggest Esther was murdered.

Who would want to kill a young school girl? What secrets is she hiding?

Given the precarious state of the Vanuatu Police Force, George and Jayline have their work cut out, being transported in Port Vila’s most decrepit and unsafe taxi van driven by Jayline’s aspiring boyfriend. George’s own unrequited love for a Vanuatu radio newsreader also impacts the investigation.

From Mele Beach at one end of Port Vila to Pango at the other, George and Jayline are challenged by Vanuatu’s broken roads, empty restaurants, confusing cultural norms as well as the extravagances and corruption of foreign aid as they attempt to solve the mysterious death.

Matt Francis’ debut novel is a tour de force both in its vivid descriptions of warts-and-all Vanuatu and its ability to suck the reader into the frustrating investigation of its likeable detective. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Colin Cotterill, best-selling crime fiction author.

I was really intrigued because the place setting is an integral “character” of the book. A great read. Emily Webb, best-selling true crime author and podcaster.

I finished reading Ifira Point and was sorry to come to the end of it. I found myself thinking “Please don’t end yet.” Dr Elizabeth Braithwaite, literary scholar.

Matt Francis

Matt Francis

Matt Francis is an Australian based academic with a love of Vanuatu and the Pacific. He has spent the last two decades researching and writing about this part of the world. Matt Francis began his career working for an international aid agency and has undertaken development-based work across Asia and the Pacific. In this, his […]

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12 reviews for Murder at Point Ifira

  1. I finished reading Ifira Point and was sorry to come to the end of it. I found myself thinking “Please don’t end yet.” Dr Elizabeth Braithwaite, literary scholar.

  2. Firstly, a big thank you to @mattfrancis who reached out and offered to send me a copy of his debut novel and to @bigskypublishing.

    This is the first physical book I have read in ages and it felt so good. At 260 pages it is no surprise that I finished it in only couple hours on a Tuesday night. I really enjoyed this book, I did feel that it may have been a bit slow to get started but once you realise that it is the first book in a series, all of the descriptions and introductions of characters make sense.

    I was surprised that it was only 260 as it felt like a very well paced mystery that had everything you needed, there was even some humour thrown in!

    I am very excited to read the next one.

  3. Loved this book. And then I discovered that its part of a series … so excited. It’s a great read. love the characters and you feel that Vanuatu vibe. A brilliant mix of thriller, suspense and a dash of humour. Grab a copy. This could very well be Christmas 2023 stocking fillers – watchout@!

  4. Murder in the Pacific: Ifira Point by Matt Francis is a well-written and engaging book. With a vivid setting and solid, somewhat quirky characters, this is a must-read. Esther Paul, a 12-year-old girl who had gone missing, has been discovered floating in the water. Senior Constable George Wong and Probationary Constable Jayline Oli are on the case and investigating her death, not knowing if it was a murder or an accident. The inquiry is complicated by the Vanuatu Police Force’s shaky position and George’s unrequited love for a radio personality. They travel dilapidated roads, and deserted eateries, deal with cultural conventions, and more. This is a great read, full of detailed descriptions, the setting is spectacular, realistic characters, and a mystery that is worth delving into. You will find you can’t put the book down until the very end. Recommended.

  5. Ifira a point by Matt Frances was a great read. Twist and turns throughout and suspenseful. I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more of Matt’s work when it comes out.

  6. visited Vanuatu earlier this year for a wonderful holiday. We explored like crazy and fell in love with the country and the lovely people. Matt Francis says this book is his ‘…love letter to the Pacific island state of Vanuatu and its people. I love its strength and flaws in equal measure.’ This love shows in the book, which hooked me immediately. Having been there so recently I could visualise most of the locations, and loved the way George and Jayline (police) were slowly built up as characters.

    Investigating a murder in Vanuatu happens differently from somewhere like Australia, and George and Jayline were incredibly resourceful – and tenderly respectful to the victim and family – in the way they went about it, both with their limited resources but their extended people network. I thoroughly enjoyed the humour, that was unexpected and rather like Alexander McCall Smith writes with his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. In all a thoroughly entertaining read. I’ll be looking out for more from this author, and hopefully more of George and Jayline.

  7. This book is set in Vanuatu where police inspector, George Long, investigates the disappearance of a missing 12-year-old girl. George doesn’t believe she’s simply taken off or is staying at a friend’s house, and he’s forced to deal with not only her family but politics and the Australian High Commission as well. He is frustrated by his lack of experience, as well as the lack of adequate transport and forensics, but he is determined to find justice for the girl.
    It’s set in the area where the locals live, rather than the tourist areas, and includes very detailed descriptions of the streets, buildings and relentless heat. The Vanuatu culture is presented authentically and there are also references to cruise ships and the impact that tourists have, as well as Australian and Chinese aid. Some of this aid is welcomed (hospitals, for example) but others remain white elephants (the Convention Centre).
    The plot moves slowly, somewhat like the Vanuatu lifestyle. I found the ending quite shocking after the gentle pace and I wonder if the author considered a different resolution.
    There are romantic sub-plots for both of the police officers which add a layer of interest and sometimes humour.

  8. Matt Francis wrote a great short novel, beautifully describing the ups and downs of typical life for Vanuatu policeman George and his “unofficial assistant” Jayline. The reader follows the journey they go on solving the case of Esther Paul’s death. Matt gives the reader insight into the culture, foreign presence, politics and corruption in Vanuatu. It gave me a great insight into Vanuatu and particularly Vila, making me look at this popular cruise destination (that I’ve travelled to) through different eyes.

    You can feel the love and sense of community through his words, truly capturing how people feel about their homes. You love it, but you still see the bad, but because you love the place, the people, you stay. And work hard to make it better.

    The first few chapters are slow moving in setting up the story but Francis lightened the mood by putting a lot of dry humor. A line on page 2 had me laughing out loud “Jeffrey was going to die anyway so what was the big deal if it was today and not in a few more years”.

    I normally don’t read crime books, but this one unexpectedly captured and held my attention, that I read through the book in a few hours.

  9. The book centres around twelve year old Esther Paul. Esther goes missing and is unaccounted for even after a broadcast on the local radio. Unfortunately a couple of days later Esther is found drifting in the sea.
    The case is being investigated by Senior Constable George Wong of the National Police Force with Probationary Constable Jayline Oli. With the wound Esther has sustained and not a lot of forensics in Vanuatu, their investigation also includes whether it was an accident or not.
    I have not been to Vanuatu so I liked the descriptions of the way of life there including culture and diplomacy. The book is from George’s perspective which I enjoyed. It was a good read.

  10. Senior Constable George Wong works a bit different to other officers, the thought of work smarter, not harder in play. But he teaches also, his Constable Jayline Oli. Using news reports as a cue for what to look into, they join the morning report each day. This seconds as a focus for George as he enjoys the soothing tones of the newsreader too. Today’s news, a missing boat & a missing girl.
    Its a different way of working in the Vanuatu islands. The descriptions outlining a harder place to live, to work, an environment of heat & politics. Australians, Chinese and other nations all wanting their piece of this paradise.
    Join George & Jayline as they put the pieces together, they follow the clues and think outside the box to solve the two crimes. One becoming a murder investigation, the other a dead end…
    I enjoyed this read, it was a good escape to a different place, though the thoughts popped in and out of my head during the story, I did not quite see the ending as it occurred. I do like a book with a twist. Thank you Big sky publishing, Matt Francis and Beauty & Lace for a fun read.

  11. really enjoyed this easy read murder mystery.

    With likeable characters this is a great story.

    Set in Vanuatu, this story takes you into the community and shows you how tough it is to live on this island and how it is struggling but the families share and barter to keep everyone’s bellies full and roof’s over their heads.

    A 12 year old girl is murdered, but who would want to harm a child?

    I will definitely be looking for Matt’s other books

    Highly recommend

  12. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Big Sky Publishing for my copy to read and review.
    Having been to Vanuatu a couple of times I was really interested in reading this book. Reading it I could picture the settings which was really enjoyable.
    George and Jayline, of the Vanuatu police force, are determined to find out what happened to Esther, a 12 year old, who is found floating with a head wound.
    The story follows their investigation to determine whether it was an accident or foul play.
    I enjoyed this easy to read and follow book. Basic characters so was easy to know who was who.

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