Ben Smith, a market researcher from New York City, has arrived on Santo Stefano, an island two hundred miles off the coast of Peru. At the behest of his company's seafood division, he's gauging the potential profitability of the island's abundance of rock lobsters. Encouraging a little tin-pot country to draw foreign investment should be a breeze – a beautiful one, too, berthed, as he is, in such an exotic locale. But Ben's interests are soon divided between the seductive Infanta Elissa, daughter of the island's powerful guano king, and another American tourist who has come in search of a reportedly lost and invaluable Panama portrait painted by French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin. And something sinister is taking over Santo Stefano. The locals call it festa brava, a ritualistic hanging ceremony, dating back centuries, in which competitors test their courage against the gallows. Whether you survive or not, it's said to be the ultimate experience. As an undercurrent of violence and unease rises closer to the surface, Ben wonders what else awaits him on the island, how it will change him, and how far he'll be expected to go on a journey of adventure, self-exploration, and absolute fear. From a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, The Panama Portrait is "a [spellbinding], sophisticated, barbaric, and hypnotic" thriller (Kirkus Reviews).
Stanley Ellin (1916–1986) was an American mystery writer known primarily for his short stories. After working a series of odd jobs including dairy farmer, salesman, steel worker, and teacher, and serving in the US Army, Ellin began writing full time in 1946. Two years later, his story "The Specialty of the House" won the Ellery Queen Award for Best First Story. He went on to win three Edgar Awards – two for short stories and one for his novel The Eighth Circle. In 1981, Ellin was honored with the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award. He died of a heart attack in Brooklyn in 1986.
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