By Lincoln DePradine
A murder mystery novel is not the typical source of information to which one normally would look to learn about a country. However, in “Prickett’s Well’’, author Edison T. Williams has weaved Barbadian history, sociology and race relations into a novel in which a white woman is killed and solving the crime is a team of the Royal Barbados Police Force.
The police investigative team is led by a Black detective sergeant, who is partnered with a younger female officer.
“The murder mystery is really a platform to write about my island,’’ Barbadian author Williams said lastSaturday at a reading and book signing event at Toronto bookstore Sleuth of Baker Street. “I write about life in Barbados,’’ Williams emphasized. “It’s the country I know best and the people I know best.’’
Williams is a former hotel manager, who has lived and worked in places such as England, Wales and Italy.
He revealed that he developed an interest in writing early in life. “I wanted to be a journalist when I was at school. But I went into the hotel business on advice that it was a more lucrative career choice and it turned out to be,’’ Williams said in an interview.
He eventually turned to writing as a “retirement hobby’’, enrolling in the Barbados Community College and studying creative writing at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, where the instructor was renowned Barbadian author George Lamming. In more than 10 years now of writing, he has published a collection of short stories and released “Prickett’s Well’’, which is set in a fictional location in Barbados.
“Non-Barbadians learn things about Barbados and even Bajans tell me that they learn things about Barbados when they read this book,’’ Williams said. “But what I want them to get out of it are two things: enjoy; enjoy the story. I’ll like to think that it’s a good story. But in addition to that, there’s insight into Barbados, into the Barbadian mentality.’’
Williams included the reading and book signing in a “family visit’’ to Canada, where he has children living in Burlington and Halifax.
Canada, he said, also was the first country he ever visited, doing so in 1965 as a teenaged army cadet under an exchange program with the Canadians. As a hotel manager, Williams also visited Canada, where his Bermuda-born mother-in-law grew up.
Williams, referring to the policing work described in “Prickett’s Well’’, said: “I had policemen around my family growing up. The rest of it is research.’’
He’s producing a sequel to “Prickett’s Well’’. It’s called “Mangoose’’ and it’s expected to be published next year.