Jim Bowen bums around on his old boat in the waters off the Great Barrier Reef with an islander called Tongo. He has just found £10,000 worth of pearls collected by a dead friend, Brant Allwood, which he should share with the Laura Allwood, the dead man's wife. Instead he plans to tell her the pearls were never found and take them all.
He rescues four passengers from a plane which comes down in the sea. They are a sheep-farmer called Gordon Tully, a teacher called Jane McCabe, an English policeman called Hingley, and the very same Laura Allwood.
The engine of his boat is sabotaged by one of the four, and they have to land on Turtle Island for repairs. Somebody steals a rifle and murders the island's only resident. Jim finds himself falling in love with Laura. A picture in an old newspaper suggests that Hingley is not a policeman but the prisoner Hingley was escorting. Is it he who is causing the delays?
First published by The Evening Standard, in eleven daily parts from Monday 27 January to Friday 7 February, 1958.
Reprinted in the Star Weekly, Toronto, 17 May, 1958.
Reprinted in the collection Delay on Turtle and other stories, New English Library, 1962.