This third mystery novel in the series by mystery writer Jonathon King finds his series character Max Freeman still living his self imposed exile deep in the Florida Everglades. Picking up a short time after the events depicted in the mystery, “A Visible Darkness,” Max is still able to live in his shack. His isolation, except for the occasional private investigator job for his friend and attorney, Billy Manchester, has allowed him to slowly come to grips with his actions extensively detailed in the first mystery novel “The Blue Edge Of Midnight.” However, the past still bothers him and he sees his pain reflected in the eyes of Billy's latest client.
Mark Mayes is a college student in Atlanta, Georgia and is considering going into the seminary. But, before he can do that, he needs answers about a painful family legacy. Mayes has found a number of letters, yellowed and brittle with age, in his grandmother's attic. The letters seem to indicate that his great-grandfather and two uncles who died in 1923 while working for a private company trying to build the first road across the Everglades may have been murdered. That road became the Tamiami Trail and like his long dead relatives something rarely spoken of in his family. If they were murdered, possibly on behalf of the company that was the law to itself in the merciless swamp, Mayes wants to take legal action against the company assuming it or some form of it still exists.
The great building projects have always taken many lives. The Tamiami Trail is no different in that it too is built upon the bones of the dead. But, as Max reads the copies of the letters again in lantern light in his shack, he too is struck by the power of the letters and the message of fear and desperation they convey. Evil, in the form of sheer greed, was at work then and is still at work today resulting in an attempt on Max's life and other efforts to warn him off even before he starts work. It soon becomes clear that there are some that don't care to have the past uncovered and will stop at nothing to keep it that way.
This report prepared by Kevin R. Tipple
Dutton, Apr 2004, 23.95, 258 pp.
In 1923, Cyrus Mayes and his sons Steven and Robert were part of a crew hired to cut the Tamiani Trail deep through the Everglades. Though dangerous, the men received room and board and very high wages. However, the trio vanishes without a trace and no one does anything to learn what happened to the Mayes males.
Eight decades later Mark Mayes has found letters that Cyrus sent to his wife before vanishing. He contacts West Palm attorney Billy Manchester to learn what happened to his relatives. Billy arranges for troubled private eye Max Freeman to conduct the search into his current home area. Max begins making inquiries of what he assumes will be impossible to learn what happened, but must have made waves because people have burned down his shack (no loss) and try to kill him when warning fails to make him back off. Instead, the attempts on his life propel the former Philadelphia cop to dig deeper into the Southern Florida wilderness.
Ironically, readers know from the beginning what actually happened to the Mayes men as a bit of nasty historical darkness is made visible. In spite of that revelation, the story line grips the audience as they wonder whether Max will uncover the truth and why someone wants him silent on an incident that occurred eighty years ago. The vivid descriptions of the Everglades as usual are top rate in its raw delicate beauty. Though the flashbacks will help new readers understand Max's sorrow, fans will find them disruptive and unnecessary thinking Philadelphia is in Pennsylvania not Florida. Still Jonathon King furbishes another delightful regional private investigative tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner