Tucker Loomis is a hard and dangerous man with a ruthlessness all West Bay fears and respects, and an improbable amount of money. Wade Rowley is a common man who aspires to honour but gets caught up in the footwork of a skilled swindler.
In a pitiless game, with a few harsh rules and just one way of keeping score, the wrong man will die. And another will get away with more than murder.
'Lively, gritty ... complex and convincing' New York Times Book Review
MacDonald's storytelling gifts are admirably displayed in his new novel, a mesmerizing narrative encapsulating questions on viable economics and snail-slow programs to protect natural resources. In West Bay, Mississippi, Tuck Loomis fraudulently acquires Barrier Island, planning to turn the ecologically important land and waters into a posh recreation area. Loomis is accepted by the good ol' boys, wheeler-dealers who prosper from local developments, but not by real-estate agent Wade Rowley. Suspicious of Loomis, Rowley breaks up with his gullible partner, Bern Gibbs, when they quarrel over the wily crook's plan to use their business as a front for his operation. Rowley learns that Loomis has bribed a representative of the U.S. Prosecutor's office to influence a hearing on Barrier Island. Acting too late, the federal government intends to acquire the island as a national park, which means paying a fortune to Loomis because of his fake title to the property. Lighting a long fuse, the perpetrator sets off a figurative bomb that destroys himself along with others to whom morality is merely a word. 150,000 first printing; Literary Guild featured alternate.