Gene Desrochers - Murder in the Caribbean

Gene Desrochers - Murder in the Caribbean

Gene Desrochers hails from a dot in the Caribbean Sea called St. Thomas. He grew up with minimal supervision and free-roaming animals in a guesthouse that also served as a hospital during wartime. He has spent his life steadily migrating west, and now finds himself in Los Angeles with a beautiful wife, cats, and kids. After a lifetime of writing and telling short stories, he ventured into the deep end, publishing his first mystery novel, Dark Paradise in 2018. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about it.

Please give us a short introduction to what Dark Paradise is about.

Dark Paradise is the story of Boise Montague and his quest to find his place in the world after his wife has passed away. He wants to go home again, but as we all know that's an impossible task. He's changed and the island he grew up on has changed. Like that saying, no one can ever stand in the same river twice. He arrives home expecting to surprise a friend only to find that his friend has been dead for over two years. To boot, Roger was murdered. Since Roger was a drug dealer, the police didn't work too hard to solve the case. Boise takes up Roger's cause with the help of a reporter named Dana Goode.

What inspired you to write about someone who descends into the criminal underworld of a beautiful island?

My inspiration for Boise arose out of a truth that gave rise to a hypothetical question. I actually had a friend who I found out had become a drug dealer as an adult and when I went looking for him, I also found out he'd been murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. I never checked that premise, but posited "what if" it was assumed by authorities that my friend died in a bad deal, but in fact there was more to it? What if authorities thought, "great another dealer off the streets," and left it at that? What kind of person would take up that victim's cause? That started me on the journey of writing Dark Paradise and creating a character like Boise.


Tell us more about Boise Montague. What makes him tick?

Boise Montague has issues, but deep down he's a very loyal person who values friendship and straightforward action. He also has massive flaws. Raised by an alcoholic father and a domineering mother, he has continued the legacy of alcoholism and often seeks approval in the wrong places. Boise's racial makeup is mixed. He's a quadroon, meaning one of his grandparents was of African descent while the other three were of European lineage. In this story, and the next to a lesser degree, Boise is struggling with his wife's death, which it's hinted was classified as an accident, but Boise thought was murder. Ultimately, what drives Boise is a need to find the truth for Roger because he could not find the truth for Evelyn, his deceased wife. In the course of Dark Paradise, he also becomes involved with a kidnapped girl's cause. His life is a shambles and these causes give him purpose at a time when he has nothing else.

You grew up on St. Thomas in the Caribbean. How has this influenced your world view and your writing?

Being from the Virgins certainly colored my view of the world. People in the larger world pay little attention to what happens on an island that's smaller than many counties in the U.S. We have no votes in Congress, yet we are owned by the U.S. As I've gotten older, it's been hard to view that as anything less than imperialism. On the other hand, we do benefit from assistance from the vast resources of the U.S. and the people there are safer and better off having the calming influence of a larger government. Many Caribbean nations struggle with poverty and corruption. St. Thomas is no exception. Even at a young age, I could see that our politicians were often corrupt and people had little. Great beauty. The islands also gave me an appreciation of nature and unspoiled beauty. St. Thomas had one more trait that defined it for me, a great deal of drinking and few rules. I grew up thinking that drinking and even being drunk was normal, even aspirational. All of these things co-existed. It made me realize when I got older and returned, this time as a tourist / observer that the picture you have of a place on a short visit does not give a full view of the deeper troubles and beauties experienced by residents of a place.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

One of my not-so-secret skills is tennis. I love the sport and played it seriously growing up. A secret skill? I can read a contract pretty well and know how to juggle. I think I'd make a pretty good head-hunter too.

A lot of people visit St. Thomas for its beauty. Your book shows the darker side of it. Why did you take this approach?

I wanted people to see the place everyone thinks of as a natural paradise for what it is: a place inhabited by humans with the same flaws and joys found in every community on earth. The old adage of writing what you know came into play for me here. I thought of writing the more common big-city crime novel, but then after I'd written two short stories about this dude named Boise Montague, a friend suggested he was interesting enough to write a novel about him. The setting was unique as all three of the Virgins are home to about 110,000 people. That meant I had the opportunity to present a world few knew about. Many people have visited the Caribbean as tourists. As a tourist, the locals try to give you what you want because it's about capitalism. That's the main industry. Whenever you have a place or person who is one thing on the outside and another on the inside (almost everyone and everything) it potentially makes for a good narrative if you have the personal history to show that dichotomy. In the case of St. Thomas and St. Croix, I have that history.

What makes Boise and Dana such a mean team?

A mean team? They definitely have different approaches. Boise likes to take action in his own good time. Problem is he's a drinker and he's from an island, which means he moves at a slower pace. Dana, being a state-sider, and an ambitious reporter is constantly knocking him into a lower gear to rev his engine. Dana is more future-oriented, Boise is more in the here-and-now. Despite these differences, when I wrote these two characters, I could feel an affinity between them, genuine and deep. It was not planned. Like two people who meet through circumstances and realize they are of the same tribe in their hearts, even if they hail from opposite ends of the earth. Boise and Dana have that. Fortunately for me, I got to tell their story.

The story is told in the first person perspective. Why?

I had written two short stories about Boise many years ago and those tales were in first person. I thought it worked well, so why mess with a good thing. I also feel that first person, while limiting in terms of what and how you can discover things, also provides the opportunity for the author to hide things from the audience and discover secrets right along with the narrator. I liken it to tennis. On the tennis court, you have these arbitrary boundaries that someone created in 1877. The court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide in singles. Those limitations force inventiveness from the players to find a way to move their opponent out of position enough so that they can win a point. Because of the limits, strategy and inventiveness thrive. Of course at times it's frustrating not being able to show everything from an omniscient point-of-view, but for this story that rarely happened so I knew it was the right pov.

What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?

Sitting down and writing! For this story specifically, it was my first novel. I've always written short stories, up to around 12,000 words, but to jump to over sixty-thousand was daunting at first. I wasn't sure I could do it, that I had that much to say and reveal about this world and these people.

Does the book have an underlying message - what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Persistence is certainly one of the themes of Dark Paradise. However, I subscribe to the notion that once a piece of work is out into the world, it's for the reader to get whatever they get out of it. I have no control over what goes on in everyone else's head, but hope that in some respect it gives them some joy and food for thought.

Is there something that compels you to write? And do you find that writing helps you achieve a clarity about yourself or ideas you've been struggling with?

Certainly writing leads me down paths I never thought about. There's definitely something about taking a theme or idea and burrowing into it that provides satisfaction superficial thought lacks. I also like the idea of letting others into my head a bit. That's what compels me as a reader: the idea that someone thought of or experienced things I've never considered and then shares that experience. It makes the world less lonely. I guess on some level it provides a connection between all of us, a place to begin deeper discourse. Writing words allows thoughts to flourish from a plain, green bush into a full bloom of red hibiscus flowers or magenta bougainvillea. It allows for philosophy. Stories are a great way to reach the heights of human thoughts as they speak to our soul. The world is better for it, I hope.

Do you have any interesting writing habits, what's your average writing day like?

I often write some chapters or the outline by hand and some on the laptop. I write at different times due to work commitments, however, I write best first thing in the morning. I'm a person who out of necessity has routines because it's hard to live a life completely routine-free, but I'm also the guy who takes different routes to a destination just for the heck of it. I actually don't like doing the same exact things every day even if it would be more effective.

What are you working on right now?

I've finished the umpteenth draft of the follow-up novel to Dark Paradise which will go for its second editorial pass shortly. It's called Sweet Paradise. It follows another Boise Montague adventure, this time involving a wealthy island family and the sugar / rum industry. Alongside that, I'm writing another story set in Los Angeles. I recently posted a short story called Up There on my blog ( and on

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

I answer questions to anyone who gets in touch through my website or uses the forum on Goodreads or wherever you find Dark Paradise sold that provides the forum for interaction. I also have a social media presence on Instagram (@authorgenedesrochers), Facebook (@ggdesrochers), and Twitter (@problemsolverge). If you'd like to join my newsletter, sign up here: