About the Author

Robert Diemer graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Case Western Reserve University Law School. He lived for several years on Kosrae and Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia. While in Micronesia Mr. Diemer was the public defender on Kosrae. Mr. Diemer’s work as a public defender took him to all four states of the Federated States of Micronesia, and to the Republic of Palau.

Mr. Diemer has also written extensively about Micronesia for various US publications, including Islands Magazine, Canoe & Kayak, the Pacific Daily News and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His other non-fiction work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Journal, and the San Francisco Examiner Magazine.


"A delicious book, humorous and flavorful, with inside knowledge of Micronesia. Very easy to read, and surprising that this is the author's first novel. ... A perfect novel to read either in front of the fire or on the beach. Recommended."
Judge for the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Awards

Amazon Reviews

"For me this was a 5 star book. There really wasn't anything I disliked, it hooked me, and I thoroughly enjoyed being hooked. I wouldn't have expected a lawyer to be as enjoyable a protagonist as a gumshoe or any other investigator, but Drake Burnham and the author's voice have all the qualities I enjoy from reading Chandler: a blue collar ethic, a caustic sense of humor and insight, and a humane sensibility. And why not make use of the unique perspectives and particulars of being a defense lawyer? The elements that make up a good mystery are all here and then some. Also, I loved the tropical setting and its cultural and logistical elements. I was a professional in a pacific archipelago many years ago and this book happily transported me back in so many ways. I'm recommending this book to everyone because, who knows? you may enjoy it as much as I did."
Bongo Beater on January 15, 2014
"The basis of this crime story is filled with great drama. It is unlike most courtroom dramas as it is set in Micronesia with all of it's different laws, crazy names and unique locations. I met the author and he shines when passionately describing his characters and plot, like only a former resident of these islands can do."
Front porch reader on August 18, 2013
"The Widow's Son imparts on its reader a true island feel. Maybe more so than any book I've read, this book transported me to a place I've never been. The juxtaposition between this "feel" and the book's taut, legal, whodunit-plot is unique, and ultimately captivating.
On the whole, I very much enjoyed the protagonist -a man relateable to most everyone- and was constantly impressed with the assortment of diverse and engaging supporting characters introduced throughout. I must say, though, this captivation took a few chapters. It took me several pages to get my bearings, to find the book's rhythm and flow. (Once I did, I was completely enveloped and I became quite invested in the characters' fates.) Which makes sense, because with each passing chapter, I found that the author consciously -and skillfully- had saved yet another layer to the tale, another wrinkle, to be revealed at an island-pace.
One more note. The book has more discussion of legal decisions/procedures than most "legal thrillers." Luckily, the discussion is presented in a way that everyone can follow (lawyers and non-lawyers alike). Personally, I found it refreshing to read a legal-mystery that refused to dumb-down or glaze-over many of the interesting, subtle strategies and decisions faced by a lawyer in the course of his practice. Moreover, the strategies and tactics discussed had a direct bearing on the pace and outcome of the story.
The final product is a full and original mystery. This is an easy, fun read...enjoy it!"
CRW on July 15, 2013
"'Who will save the widow's son?' This curious question is the subject of Robert Diemer's 'Tropical Island Mystery,' a legal thriller and 21st century tale of salvation in lost paradise that's equal parts Elmore Leonard, John Grisham, and Graham Greene. The story takes place in Micronesia, on islands like Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Chuuk, whose natural charms seem to have been corrupted by the baubles and benefits of the American welfare state they were showered with in their 'Trust Territory' days. Those days are long since gone, but they left the islands with a language (sort of), an economy based on petty bureaucracies and cheap beer joints (if you can call it that), and a legal system that bears just enough resemblance to what goes on in the States that our hero, burnout ex-pat criminal defense lawyer Drake Burnham, gets work every now and then. Burnham, who keeps framed photos of Clarence Darrow and Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett in his office, has gained the locals' respect as the established if beleaguered nemesis of the islands' prosecutorial and judicial class. That career (if you can call it that) has left him with numerous relationships and connections with the locals, unforgettable characters Diemer creates with obvious affection. When Burnham gets the case of his life--that might even cost him his life--he has to rely on all of his legal skill, personal guile (5-0 style), islands cultural sensitivity, relationships he has with the locals, and knowledge of the other side's tradecraft and foibles. On his way to solving the mystery of 'who will save the widow's son,' Burnham, who may be both saver and saved, encounters mistaken identities, lost evidence, surprise witnesses, and a Tarantino-inspired assortment of meth-addled badasses and international mafiosi. On our way to the wedding that marks the book's classical happy ending, we encounter all of Diemer's deeply and well created characters and his obvious intricate knowledge of life and lifestyles on tropical islands most Americans have never heard of. Diemer must have been a pretty good lawyer himself, too, or known someone who was, to do what he does with Burnham in a case. And, he does all of this with a sense of humor not seen enough in novels these days. Our man Burnham is world-weary, not a bit naive, but in the end hopeful: a bit cynical, but too much in love with the good guys and good places that show up even in paradise lost to let that stop him from saving 'The Widow's Son.'"
dr.edward wu on June 17, 2013

Media Coverage

Notre Dame Magazine
Robert Diemer Interview with Oceania TV (Palau)
Interview in Sunset Beacon
Author Turns Overseas Job into Murder-Mystery Novel