Greed and honor are in conflict in a thriller that involves a generational family reputation with the encroachment of corporate interests, an old man and his grandson at odds when the past is threatened by the future. Two different scenarios unfold, linked by one business deal that will protect a great swath of Florida land and fill the coffers of Earl Hammond, Jr., and his family.
Rusty Stabler brokers a deal between outdoorsman Thorn Bates and Hammond for Coquina Ranch, where notables and heads of state have gathered for generations over campfires, discussing the future of the country and Americaís place on the world stage. Heir to the ranch and its celebrated history, Earl Hammond, Jr., has raised his two orphaned grandsons, Frisco and Browning. A cop on the mounted force, Frisco has withdrawn from family business, Browning setting up a hunting preserve with plans for expansion and growing profits.
Just before the deal is done, old man Hammond is killed in a shootout in the family lodge. The ensuing investigation yields little by the time the governor, who is present the night of the killing, intervenes on behalf of the family - case closed. Then Thorn goes missing, and itís anyoneís guess what will happen to the ranch or the business deal that would have secured the Hammond family fortune.
The cast of characters is fitting for the locale: an untrustworthy governor; an ambitious grandson with plans to increase the revenue of the ranch; Rusty Stabler, who searches vainly for Thorn with Sugarman, Thornís right-hand man, an opportunistic ex-NFL football star turned product spokesman; and a couple of renegade guns for hire who arenít about to miss out on an opportunity to cut in on a sweet deal.
Hall propels his characters through a violent scenario that pits the revered past against the greed of a world running out of resources, a noble man with altruistic motives against a frustrated grandson positive he can usher Coquina Ranch into a profitable future, regardless of the damage to the family. The conflicts are as physical and raw as the land, one brother pitted against another, Thorn at the bottom of a pit waiting for his abductors to return and finish the job.
A bucolic setting, where once captains of industry met around campfires, a carpet of stars blanketing the sky, turns into a primal battle between opposing concerns. Hall inserts an interesting subplot into the tale, a grand and terrible scheme from the Ď30s, adding another layer of menace to the novel, man, land and greed in yet another struggle as the environment becomes a key player in an ongoing drama.