I’m in the Florida Keys on vacation at the moment, and the question before departing for the trip was what books to bring. I couldn’t resist taking at least one crime fiction novel, but Florida has so much great crime fiction, the choice wasn’t easy. I wondered whether I should take MacDonald, Willeford, Hendricks, or Elmore Leonard (to name a few). In the end, I decided on the crime writer most attached to the Keys specifically - James W. Hall. The book I brought is Under Cover of Daylight, the first in his series of novels about Thorn, a solitary type who lives in a Key Largo shack and makes bone ties for a living. I’m about sixty percent through the book now, and what I like most about it is the pronounced sense of place. The landscape of the Florida Keys functions almost as a character in its own right, influencing the characters’ worldviews and motivating them to act in ways that put them in danger and drive them to dangerous extremes. The book was published in 1986, and it’s interesting to see how the development overtaking the Keys then, the damage being done to the environment so that condo complexes could go up and fancy houses could be built for affluent people from outside the Keys, was a big issue. I have found the Keys to be lovely physically, but I can only imagine what the islands looked like thirty years ago and thirty-forty years before that. In any event, the book’s a good read so far and has satisfied my desire to have an evocative Keys novel to read while visiting the area.
Unrelated to Hall’s novel, I might add, I’ve been watching the third and final season of Bloodline on my Kindle during the nights here, and that’s been a lot of fun also. It’s not a flawless season plot and drama wise, but after watching the first two seasons, soon after they premiered, while at home in New York, it’s a kick to see the aerial shots of the skinny islands I’ve been driving over and to hear the characters refer to the mile markers on US 1 that everyone seems to use as directional guideposts here.
Well, as I mentioned, I am writing this post on the road, and it’s about the only writing I’ve done and plan to do on this twelve day trip. This is my first time in the Florida Keys, and the idea has been to just immerse myself in everything Keys for the duration. James Hall’s Under Cover of Daylight has contributed to this immersion nicely.
I spend more time deciding what books to take than what clothes I will need. We were in the Keys last February and enjoyed it immensely but nature had been overtaken by tourist concerns. I was there ten years earlier and it had even changed since then.
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