The year- 1910; the locale- the Florida West Coast, towards the Keys; the cast of characters- Celia, the gently reared bride, and the dominant, highly self-centered husband, Ed Watson, a good many years her senior, secretive, violent, insensitive to her needs; the household of derelicts she found when they reached his island home -- and the teen age son, of whose existence she was ignorant; the young supervisor, loyal despite a growing awareness of his boss' cruelties; and the supine, cringing people of the nearest settlement, to a man hating and fearing Watson. The story gathers momentum after the arrival of the mysterious stranger, who held the whiphandle over Ed. But at the end, when the law takes its own brutal course, and one person after another falls victim to Watson's passions, the reader cares little who survives. Even Celia seems a poor thing and only Bone, the supervisor, preserves some measure of dignity. The brooding quality of the mangrove swamps and the erratic code of half-rejected morals leave an impress on the mind. Based on fact.