Kidnappers, crocodiles and drug cartels

  • Book: Do Not Become Alarmed
  • Location: Central America
  • Author: Maile Meloy

Review Author:



Three couples on a luxury Christmas cruise with their respective children are terrified when the children disappear, swept away from a beach by powerful tides while on a shore excursion. As the story progresses, we learn about the couples and their relationships, understandably strained by the awful predicament they find themselves in. The children, meanwhile, come up against a gang of drug dealers in the jungle and are kidnapped. Their escape with a young man and his niece who are trying to get to America produces some of the best scenes in the book.
This thriller set in Central America (most likely Costa Rica) was an enjoyable read although it started slowly. There are a lot of characters and and it took a while for them to come to life, with the result that I was, for a while, tempted to give up but it was worth persevering. The characters of the children and the drug dealers were, to me, ultimately the most successful. The fact that there was some reflection on the contrast between the privileged tourists and the poverty and lack of advantage in the country they were visiting gave more depth to the story.

Back to book

Sign up to receive our e-newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021