Saturday, June 6, 2009
The Island of Paradise
Island of Paradise is a story of a cryptozoological investigation built into an odd but cohesive web of history, politics, and biographical reminiscences.
Jon Downes and Nick Redfern travel to Puerto Rico to make a documentary investigating claims of livestock killed by the legendary Chupacabra. Jon's admitted ulterior motive is, however, to find a snail specimen that he had encountered in a cave on his first trip to the island several years before. Between interviews of people with bizarre stories of alleged Chupacabra mischief, Jon doggedly explores the natural world around him, and does succeed in finding his snails. He also surmises that two aquatic anomalies, which he discovered on his previous trip, are living evidence of rapid evolution due to toxins from a long-ago UFO crash -- which he is convinced is not alien in origin. It isn't until Jon returns home to England that he reaches a conclusion regarding the alleged Chupacabra. Despite the largely paranormal reputation of the Chupacabra, Jon's theory is scientifically sound.
What could be a bland topic for the less scientifically minded is spiced with a lay-friendly narration of intriguing Puerto Rican natives, hearty drink, lots o' food, and poignant flashbacks to a childhood that explain the naturalist Jon is today.
The dark conspiracy theories involving the U.S. military, accompanied by Jon's controversial political persuasions, are tempered by disarming revelations which allow us glimpses into his own human imperfections. All in all, he has a startling ability to disappear into a labyrinth of narrative strands and emerge with each loose end neatly tied. All in all, a delightful read.
Readers of Nick Redfern will also enjoy post-chapter commentary by Nick himself.