Everglades private eye Max Freeman takes on an impossible tracing job for an Atlanta college student whose great-grandfather disappeared way back in 1924.
Driven by the promise of room and board and $75 a week, princely wages in those days, Cyrus Mayes and his sons Steven and Robert had signed on to work for PalmCo cutting the Tamiani Trail deep through the Glades. So deep, in fact, that they never emerged from the primeval land King (A Visible Darkness, 2003, etc.) evokes so beautifully. Now Mark Mayes wants West Palm attorney Billy Manchester to find out what King has already told the reader on page 1: that the three were tracked down and shot, like so many others before them, when they tried to escape the virtual enslavement of their hellish working conditions. Billy hands the matter off to Freeman, whose investigation strikes so many unlikely sparks that in no time at all his shack has been torched and his truck bugged and shot at, presumably by the same guys who phoned him to warn him off the case. Though the nature of the exercise—it’s pretty obvious who’ll get tagged for the ancient crime—downplays the mystery, King provides some scenes that crackle with tension along with his trademark snapshots of South Florida’s wild, fragile landscape.
Now if only Freeman could get over those constant flashbacks to the mean streets he walked as a Philadelphia cop.