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Posted December 27, 2012
For those like me who have ridden over Rhode Island's Jamestown Bridge without even noticing Dutch Island, and for others not intimately familiar with the area; the island is real. From the bridge this flat protuberance looks like a poorly tended garden of rocks and scrub brush attempting to block Narragansett Bay's western passage. In times of war its location has been strategically important enough to house troops and eventually became the site of significant fortifications. These defenses are now crumbling and a lighthouse previously considered essential has been abandoned. Like most abandoned places it gives off its peculiar air of mystery.
A worthless piece of dirt, right? Hardly. This one hundred and two acre tract of land is surrounded by waterways that are regularly plied by multi-million dollar yachts. The real estate around the bay is some of the most valuable in the U.S. So why hasn't Dutch Island been developed? That's the heart of the matter, and the backdrop for this exciting novel.
Borrowing many of the characters from his earlier Book of Nathan, Weeden skillfully blends the lack of proof of ownership into the hard realities of the recession on working class Rhode Islanders, ans tosses in the Ocean State's penchant for cozy relationships between government leaders and underworld bosses. He adds in the obvious but difficult to prove assertions by both real Native Americans and those for whom it is convenient to claim Native American heritage. Then, adds a cynical Muslim Sheik with enough money to motivate financially strained business partners in collusion with the east coast's legendary union bosses. Finally he includes a courageous victim of a crippling disease with an equally courageous care-giving spouse, and you have the ingredients for a marvelous read!
I found myself drawn into the action that begins with the protagonist casting for trout on page one and moving quickly through murder, false accusations, distrust, romance and political intrigue by way of humor, wildly unlikely alliances and great courage, racing toward a mostly redemptive conclusion. I am both satisfied, and eagerly anticipating more.