A Frontier Thriller!
In 1815 a plot is hatched in the sultry French Quarter of New Orleans. Banker Jules Signet has found a way to acquire vast wealth, exploiting a new “science” that seems to justify racial superiority. He plans to take down some of New Orleans’ top citizens. His web ensnares “Doc” Thomas Applegate, a drunken but highly gifted physician, and John Harkness a weak, corruptible federal judge. Both men become partners in Signet’s scheme. Their first victim is Philippe Bouchard, protégé of Pierre Delacroix, one of New Orleans’ leading merchants. What happens in the courtroom ranks as one of the most appalling crimes in American history. Two people are ruined—Phillippe and Kayla, the beautiful quadroon carrying Judge Harkness’ child. Both are sold as slaves, to work the cane fields of inland Brazil.
Doc and the judge have a change of heart, but Signet is too powerful to resist, and he has already chosen another victim. Doc seeks the aid of Delacroix, a Catholic priest, and Emmett Barnett, a bandy-legged, one-eyed smuggler, leader of a band of bayou pirates. A dangerous sea voyage takes Doc and Emmett to Brazil and Martinique, where proof of Philippe’s ancestry might lie.
Signet casts his web into Kentucky where Craig Ridgeway and wife, Mary, struggle to deal with the “Year Without a Summer,” slave catchers, an epidemic, and shocking misfortune. Despite the hardships, they find themselves caught up in the commercial and political growth that defines the “Era of Good Feelings.” Whiskey distilling, tobacco and hemp farming, hog drives, and a new industry keep Craig and his in-laws busy. Surprise visitors enter their lives—and they may hold the answer to Craig’s slave problem.
Judge Wilfred Bozarth, the local militia commander, engages in an adulterous affair and risky financial speculation that could bring disaster. Despite his moral weakness, his fighting skills will be put to the ultimate test. Evil men descend upon the little settlement of Cottonwood Bend. Outgunned and confounded by new technology, neighbors must come together to defend their own.