Death of a Siren by William S. Schaill
This fast-paced mystery is set in the otherworldly and spy-filled Galapagos Islands in 1938 during the lead-up to World War II. A fugitive New York City cop is on the run from both the law and the mafia after killing a mobster. Trying to make his escape to the Fiji Islands in a boat he stole from his father-in-law, castaway Fred Freiman, a German-American, stops on the Galapagos Islands for replenishment and stumbles upon the body of a beautiful, enigmatic German baroness with a hatchet in her head. The next day the baroness’s two strange companions are also found murdered. After finding the bodies, Freiman finds himself trapped into identifying the murderer, or murderers, by a corrupt local official as world and local intrigues and personal passions swirl around him. Early on Freiman meets and falls in love with Ana de Guzman, a young, very wealthy Ecuadorian woman who just graduated from Barnard College and who collaborates actively in solving the tangled mysteries. As he struggles to solve the murders, Freiman also searches for the reality of the baroness, who is described by some as a monster and others as a lost soul. Do sirens sing intentionally to trap sailors or do they sing because it is their nature to sing?
The suspects are many, ranging from colorful recent German and Norwegian settlers to shady Americans to an elusive German believed to be a SS Officer as well as many seemingly insane Germans who may or may not have assassinated a very senior SS Officer in Munich, and finally the Ecuadorians themselves. Motives and relationships are equally wide-ranging and shadowy while the drama unfolds in the edge-of-the-world enchantment that is the Galapagos Islands. In the end Ana and Fred solve the connected mysteries only to discover the NYPD and the Mob haven’t forgotten him at all.