"...A small event, just a one kiloton blast at ground level on the Mall in front of the Space and Air Museum, would dig a crater two hundred feet in diameter and about sixty feet deep……..Not too bad. Now, put ground zero right here on MacDill and we could eliminate south Tampa, smooth off the contours around the bay. Get rid of all the big snakes down at the end of the runway...."
Lost Key begins with Corporal Harry Parker as a young Special Forces soldier thrust into the middle of the disastrous and short-lived Cuban counter-revolution, then takes you with a far older and, perhaps wiser, Parker when he is summoned from his Washington DIA office to revisit the seamy side of Tampa's Ybor City. There he is drawn into the middle of a drugs-for-arms transaction. Not just guns, this time the stakes are higher - a nuclear weapon stolen by fanatical terrorists - the beginning of a wild ride across today's South Florida and the Florida Keys where romance with a member of the Conch Republic threatens to sidetrack his mission.
And, of course, Lost Key as in all my other novels has a dog - in this case Shorty the long-hair dachshund, a member of my very own household.
Tidbits Uncovered Researching and Writing Lost Key
- Ybor City - A melting pot of cultures and ethnicities brought about by the cigar industry, Ybor is a unique part of Tampa's history and future. And the home of - we hope - fictional organized crime - and a vocal not-so-fictional Cuban exile community .
- Small Atomic Demolition Munition - SADM's are definitely not a figment of my imagination, but were a significant factor in the Cold War - and an item of great interest for arms dealers;
- Florida Keys - A true vacation wonderland, the Conch Republic is a world upon itself, with visual delights above and below water. An ideal locale for drug traffickers to barter with arms dealers in out-of-the way gator-infested islands;
- Olé - now an antique - the Owens 26' plywood hull cabin cruiser, Chevy marine inboard conversion, used to escape Cuba, somehow finds its way to Gulf Winds;
- US Coast Guard Station Islamorada - Well, somebody had to be the bad guy (gal). And teach us how to navigate by the stars. The men and women manning the Islamorada Station on Marathon Island in the Keys are dedicated, and I am sure don't give a hoot what I say. Even in fiction;
- Night in the Southern Latitudes - how to tell time by the position of the Southern Cross;
- University of Tampa - Teddy and his wife ate lunch on the porch, waiting for the future president to embark for Cuba and history - and Babe Ruth set another home run record here - and the fictional Taz Ward named for Taz-ayz-sloth, Geronimo’s wife, of Cherokee heritage and a Native American linguist, also an anthropologist at the University;
- Anhingas - or often called the "snake bird" for their appearance - one of many common water birds found along the Gulf Coast and throughout the Keys.
Signed copies can be ordered from Screaming Eagle Press.
Lost Key is a significant revision of Flash of Emerald, originally published by Hard Shell Word Factory and was a winner of Best Mystery at the 2004 EPIC awards. Lost Key is now available at Amazon.com in paper and Kindle editions.
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