It is the Depression, where thousands of World War I veterans are back after the war and the economy has taken its toll on our great nation. Arlen Wagner has survived one of the bloodiest battles in France, the Battle of Belleau Woods, only to return to a jobless nation. While in war ravaged France, he discovers a “gift”, he can see those who will die before their death. They turn to skeletonized specters when in the moonlight and have smoke filled eyes even in normal light. This ability is terrifying, especially when his new-found young friend, Paul Buckhill and he head to the Florida Keys for a government construction job. During a routine train stop, their fellow workers and passengers get off the train…and Arlen sees their skeletonized figures exit.
Convincing Paul that their journey to Florida is marked by certain death, the two hitch a ride with a colorful gangster to the south where they are likely to find work. Their unlikely path takes them to a rundown Gulf Town in Florida where they are led to The Cypress House, a small boarding house and bar run by the beautiful and hypnotic Rebecca. The town is a gangland smugglers den, run by dangerous character that will stop at nothing to protect their secrets. The story leads to a path of mystery, murder, intrigue, and seduction. Mystical character development that delves to the core of our ethical and moral beliefs.
Does Arlen’s vision of death, set a path beyond any ability of change? Can morality and goodness alter even the most imminent death? Does love sustain and conquer against unfathomable odds?
Michael Kroyta writes in a fast pace elegant style, placing the reader in a Southern humid environment that literally drips off the pages. He seamlessly blends the mystical with a believable cast of protagonists and antagonists. This is a terrific fast paced read, full of character and spontaneity. I highly recommend this to my male and female friends as a rare find, rich in intrigue, history, and mysticism.
Perhaps we have all spoken to the dead at one time or another…if only in our dreams.