Isolated in the 1920s Everglades, an ill-suited couple faces ritual murder, voodoo, and terrifying deception, as each must determine what future -- if any -- exists for two people never “meant for each other.”South Florida, 1928:An earthy andMoreIsolated in the 1920s Everglades, an ill-suited couple faces ritual murder, voodoo, and terrifying deception, as each must determine what future -- if any -- exists for two people never “meant for each other.”South Florida, 1928:An earthy and frustrated Fort Myers patrolman, Otto Jawezski, sees a chance for advancement as a motorcycle cop on the new Tamiami Trail.
But the promotion comes with a hitch: All Trail officers must have a wife. He makes a hasty marriage with Enida Hubbard, the gawky niece of a powerful judge glad to push her off his hands. Older, genteel, and religion-obsessed, only Enida’s humiliation of living as the town spinster outweighs her apathy toward Otto Jawezski. The unlikely couple has no time to sort their differences and heads toward Otto’s post deep in the Everglades ̶ a place of ritual killing and spirit possession.Appalled by the primitive cottage station, Enida has little time to dwell on life without electricity.
Swept up with the slaughters of penniless Seminoles, Otto must search for a killer with no apparent motive. And even before Enida unpacks, a saintly missionary appears with a boy who cannot speak and suffers strange terrors. Will the couple take him in? Their decision to shelter the boy brings joy and dread: As they come to adore the child, they realize he is marked for execution.The menace rises with threatening notes on the doorstep and the chilling discovery somebody is hiding in the cottage down the Trail.
The nearest neighbors live miles away, and although funny and kind, they have a homicide of their own to cover up. Behind everything lurks the macabre voodoo queen, Old Polly. Is Old Polly a remarkable sorceress, or a delusional, senile fool?Although isolated, the cottage attracts a stream of unwanted visitors. A smart-aleck maid and a useless investigator move in- then a gaggle of church ladies comes calling to sneer at Enida’s primitive cottage and crude husband. Hobos tramp the Tamiami Trail, some dangerous and other quietly noble. And what of the phantom Trail Woman who shuffles along the road, appearing and disappearing as if by magic?
Dismissed as a fluke of Otto’s imagination, when Enida encounters the specter she questions her sanity. While these characters may seem merely colorful wallpaper, each is tied to the slayings ̶ even the snooty churchwomenAmid the havoc, Enida comes to recognize Otto’s courage and optimism, yet she struggles to cope with his working class ways and relentless sex drive.
Enida wonders: Should she leave him? She seeks answers in Christian Science but only concludes she cannot face the snickers awaiting her back in Fort Myers.Otto, though, is thrilled with the excitement of the case, the beauty of the Everglades, and his love for the boy. Then Otto is shot on patrol.
Forced to hobble about in a cast, he must consider he may never regain full use of his leg. One morning, he discovers the cottage surrounded in sawgrass, a Seminole token of imminent death.Will this patched-together family flee? Or do they stay and discover the truth about the murders and about themselves?When a major suspect drowns, Otto and Enida believe the murders have ended- a terrifying struggle in the night proves them wrong.Plentiful details of 1920s Florida and the remarkable history of building the Tamiami Trail enrich the story.Danger, humor, tenderness, and conflict meet in the vast Everglades.
Remarkable, quirky, and very human characters learn about evil, love, courage, and simple joy.And note: The cottage on the books cover is the actual Fakahatchee Station as it appeared in 1990.