The Jolly Roger Social Club: A True Story of a Killer in Paradise
When the eccentric Wild Bill and Jane Cortez joined the American expat community in Bocas del Toro, a secluded bit of Panama many would call paradise, no one suspected the destructive forces that had just moved into town. It would be years before friends and acquaintances discovered the truth: two vipers were in their midst, charming neighbors before murdering them and seizing their property under the guise of real estate investments.
//The Jolly Roger Social Club// is the circuitous investigation into the lethal crime spree of William Dathan Holbert and Laura Michelle Reese, aka Wild Bill and Jane Cortez. A thorough, if slow-paced, reconstruction of their lives in Bocas del Toro, their vicious crimes, and the aftermath of their capture, the book tries valiantly to separate fact from Holbert’s many psychotic flights of fantasy.
But the narrative falters when Foster twice delves deeply into the history of Panama itself, abandoning its core narrative for laborious, unnecessary detail that could’ve been summed up in a few paragraphs. These digressions feel more like padding than backstory.
Nonetheless, when he remains on target, Foster delivers an intriguing, horrifying look at two predators at work.
Henry Holt and Co.