A Cajun alligator hunter goes on the run after standing up to a racist sheriff whose nephew attacked his son.
After a justified fracas with the law, Logan LaBauve and Chilly Cox, a black teenager who came to the defense of Logan’s son Meely (the title character of Wells’s first, Meely LaBauve, 2000), must leave Meely behind, since he’s broken his leg. The two escape through the bayou in a pirogue (a Cajun canoe, according to the accompanying glossary). Surviving a water-moccasin, wasps, mosquitoes, and a crazy man in a boat, they hide from sheriff’s deputies and encounter a sweet old woman whose dead husband has been rocking on her back porch for days. Their luck improves when they run across an oil-field employee whose uncle has hunted with Logan. He introduces the two to Catfish Annie, a widow of some means and high moral character. The attraction between Logan, a widower, and the more educated Annie is obvious though left unspoken. After putting them up for a night, she arranges for a local cabbage farmer to drive them to Tupelo, Mississippi, where Chilly’s uncle has a farm. On the road, their truck is waylaid by a professor-turned-robber and his cronies—who bear an unmistakable resemblance to the felonious acting troupe Huck Finn encountered a century earlier. Once safely ensconced in Tupelo, Chilly, whose character has never been fully developed, drops out of the story while Logan goes home to check on Meely, now staying with his teacher (more shades of Twain). Then Logan heads to Florida, where he’s been offered a job on an alligator farm. He stops off to visit Annie, and romance blooms. She decides to drive him to Florida, and the storm of the title turns out to be a hurricane they barely survive.
Wall Street Journal editor Wells can turn a charming phrase—sometimes to the point of the saccharine—but this last of his bayou trilogy never matures into more than a string of picaresque adventures.