Widower Sean O’Brien, ex–Miami Homicide, makes his debut.
Six months after his wife Sherri succumbs to ovarian cancer, Sean O’Brien and their dachshund Maxine are kicking back in the Florida backwaters off Ocala National Forest when a cryptic Seminole happens by, leaves an arrowhead, then wades away. When O’Brien goes to follow, he finds the battered body of a young Hispanic girl who whispers, “Atlactl imix cuanmiztl,” then dies in his arms. Slater, Volusia County PD, considers O’Brien his chief suspect, but O’Brien, who knows better, sets out to discover who raped and strangled the girl. The trail leads him to 15 unsolved Miami cases attributed to a killer dubbed the Bagman who seems to have changed location but not methodology. Joining forces with Det. Leslie Moore, O’Brien uncovers enslaved migrants working the SunState Tomato Farms, enforced prostitution, bribes, graft, organ theft and a near-death encounter with the Bagman.
Lowe’s prose waxes elegiac in describing Florida wildlife but wanes clumsy in plumbing motive and personal narrative. By midpoint, his plot has boiled over with enough action to power a soap opera for months. One can only hope that the promised sequel will be more streamlined.