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The sun was rising over Moat County, Florida, when Sheriff Thurmond Call was found on the highway, gutted like an alligator. A local redneck was tried, sentenced, and set to fry.
Then Ward James, hotshot investigative reporter for the Miami Times, returns to his rural hometown with a death row femme fatale who promises him the story of the decade. She's armed with explosive evidence, aiming to free--and meet--her convicted "fiancÚ."
With Ward's disillusioned younger brother Jack as their driver, they barrel down Florida's back roads and seamy places in search of The Story, racing flat out into a shocking head-on collision between character and fate as truth takes a back seat to headline news...
said, “He’s probably embarrassed at what’s happened …” He thought it over. “She doesn’t like us around, I’d hate to ruin the day. “We’re his family,” I said, and I poured myself another glass of wine. The second taste was better than the first, which perhaps is what separates thirty-dollar wine from the kind you buy at the grocery store. “We were there before Ellen Guthrie, and we’ll be there after she’s gone.” He nodded—an acknowledgment that I’d spoken, not that he agreed with what I’d said.
Thorn’s city limits by three-thirty in the morning. Each morning at nine o’clock, if the truck didn’t break down and the press runs were on time, I came to the clearing where Sheriff Call’s car had been found. The spot was partially hidden from the road—a baked, treeless circle cut into a stand of pines, a picnic table and two outdoor toilets no more than twenty feet apart, the men’s to the east, the ladies’ to the west. A marker indicated the spot where the first school in the state had once
way. Ward did not reply to that, and Mr. Ellison sat up, ready to do business. “What may I do for you gentlemen today?” he said. And my brother told him we were in town looking into the murder of Thurmond Call and the conviction of Hillary Van Wetter for the crime. He said, “There was some physical evidence that was lost.…” Mr. Ellison nodded, as if he knew everything Ward was going to say. As if we were all in agreement. “Yes, there was,” he said. “Significant evidence …” “Yessir,” Mr.
the hall. I went past her, and out the door. “I think they’re killing him,” she said behind me, trying to keep up. I turned to look at her. “Who?” “The sailors,” she said. “I think it’s the sailors.” My foot hit a tray of dirty dishes set outside a door for room service to pick up, scattering glasses and French fries across the carpet. I slipped, started to fall, and then got myself upright again and ran in earnest. I lost the sound of her steps behind me, lost them in the sound of my own
brother took a pen from his pocket to write down the instructions, but the deputy was agitated now, and took a pencil from his drawer and began to draw a map. The man’s fingers were thick and blunted, as if the tips had been caught in a car door, but he drew with a delicate motion, careful of the shapes of intersections, the size of his roads, the shoreline of the river. He stopped from time to time to judge the proportions of the drawing, and then leaned back into it, filling in certain areas