Ensworth Harding receives an unexpected and at first unwelcome gift from his father for his eighteenth birthday. Instead of the new car or sailboat that Ensworth envisions, his father drops him off on an isolated sandy road. He admonishes his son, “Don’t let me hear a peep from you until you reach the end of this road. If I do, I will disinherit you.” It is a threat his son takes seriously, considering the amount of money in question and that his father is well known for saying what he means and meaning what he says. After handing him a backpack, Ensworth's father drives away.
Upon recovering his senses, Ensworth examines the contents of the backpack. Naturally expecting to find the necessities for his trip such as credit cards and a cell phone, he soon realizes that his idea of necessities differs greatly from his father's. The actual items therein range from a toiletry kit to a diary to various other small items and the sealed letter (to remain sealed until he delivers it) that he must deliver to an address in Savannah.
The first page of the diary has an explanation penned by his father. It seems that his father's amassed fortune has given Ensworth and his brothers too many creature comforts without demanding any character-building. Knowing it is too late for his other sons, his father is making this one last-ditch effort to salvage his remaining child from the morass of wealth and privilege.
There begins Ensworth's intricate, harrowing and often funny journey. He will meet many fascinating people, including an eccentric British gentleman who butts into a sheriff’s drug deal, an unscrupulous con-man who wants to prove the truth to the old saying that there is a sucker born every minute, and a voodoo witch doctor who uses modern technology to ply her trade. The most poignant character is Liverpool, a Latin-spouting, wizened man from another time and his Bucephalus, his pet ox.
A well-woven plot and convincingly drawn characters make this novel a constant page-turner. Author Stephen Doster transports readers with the convincing word-painted world of his first novel. With a beginning effort of this quality, it is certain that his next novel will be eagerly anticipated.