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A reporter returns to his Florida home-town to investigate a case involving a death row inmate.

Upon the publication of "his" novel, Anita Chester, a black woman, recounts the story which was presumably the basis of the novel. It was the summer of 1969, her story centered on her employers, the Jansens, a newspaper family of Lately, Moat County, Florida, she then their part-time maid. The family patriarch, W.W. Jansen, was editor of the local newspaper, the Moat County Tribune. Eldest son Ward Jansen was a well respected investigative reporter for the Miami Times, his stories largely on issues of civil rights. Youngest son, twenty year old Jack Jansen, a former champion swimmer, was also an aspiring writer, recently returned home to deliver newspapers for his father having been expelled from college. With Ward and Jack's mother long out of the picture, Anita had been the only motherly influence in Jack's life, a mother he would have never considered their father's then girlfriend, Ellen Guthrie, who had a sense of privilege being what she considered more well bred solely because of her New York upbringing. Beyond her wedding ring, the only thing Jack had of his mother's was her belief not to engage in sex outside of marital love, which he still believed himself. That summer, Ward returned home with a British well bred, well spoken black colleague, Yardley Acheman, to investigate the 1965 murder of local corrupt sheriff, Thurmond Call. Hillary Van Wetter, from the wrong side of the swamp, was on death row for the murder, but it was largely regarded that he was a scapegoat - being not a well respected person himself - his lawyer who put up no real defense on Hillary's behalf at the trial. Ward and Yardley enlisted Jack's help as their driver while in Lately. Ward and Yardley being given this assignment was largely on the impetus of letters from Charlotte Bless. Bleached blonde white trash from Mobile, Alabama, Charlotte had routinely written to inmates including Hillary. Despite never having met in person, Hillary and Charlotte became engaged. As such, Charlotte became integral to the investigation, she who accompanied the trio to the prison whenever they needed to visit Hillary. Complications ensued when Jack himself fell for Charlotte - his first love - who he saw, if he were to admit to himself, his mother, a high school sweetheart, and an oversexed Barbie doll all rolled into one. It becomes clear that Anita's recollection of the situation is not so much to tell if they are able to prove Hillary innocent, but rather to relay the interrelationship between this collective of players, most specifically Ward, Jack and Charlotte, and how Jack's love for both played into what happened.


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