Ernest Toadvine Jr. is on course to become one of the most celebrated sculptors of the 20th Century, but on a blustery October day in post-World War II Cincinnati, after mustering out of the Merchant Marines, he just needs a place to stay.
He is directed to a boarding house run by the single mother and aunt of Alex Kemp, a boy who is just about to start school. They didn’t know that their lives would be, from that time on, as intertwined as the intricate toad-and-vine tattoo that Ernest sported on his forearm.
After high school, Alex’s young career takes him though a stint at a burlesque theater and a funeral home until he and Toadvine launch on a trip to Central America, where they discover a startling pre-Columbian artifact, which can change their lives forever, if only they can get it back to the States and his studio
So begins an adventure across the Caribbean, that can pay off grandly, or end tragically with one shot from a Mark IV Webley pistol.