An otherwise beautiful day on Longboat Key

“Bitter Legacy,” by H. Terrell Griffin. Oceanview Publishing. 360 pages. $25.95.

H. Terrell Griffin continues his Matt Royal mystery series with a stunning thriller in which uncompromising evil and equally uncompromising courage meet in a fight to the finish. Along the tale’s violent way, Mr. Griffin explores a little-known aspect of Florida’s history involving Black Seminoles. Though it’s not clear at first, what’s at stake is control over a phosphate mining empire. What’s Matt got to do with it? Well, almost nothing – but others think he does. Clearly, someone is after Matt and his good friend Logan Hamilton, as shots ring out on an otherwise beautiful day on Longboat Key.

Involved in the investigation is Longboat Key police chief Bill Lester, who actually hears the crack of the rifle and sees Logan fall on a downtown Sarasota street. A large book stuffed in Logan’s inside jacket pocket blocks the bullet. Logan’s pal, retired lawyer Matt Royal, returns from a week’s boating dalliance with a lady friend to find out about Logan’s mishap and soon enough to discover that he, too, is a target.

A piece of the novel’s action takes place in and around a fictitious small Collier County town, Belleville, where a poorly-skilled lawyer, Jason Blackmore, is assassinated. Readers learn that Blackmore had referred a man named Abraham Osceola to Matt Royal, who in fact had met him before on Key West. Now some of the bits and pieces of information that Griffin parcels out begin to make tenuous connections. Abraham Osceola is a “Black Seminole,” returned from his people’s settlement in exile on Andros Island in the Bahamas to make a case for their ownership of extensive mineral rights in Florida. There are hints about an old document that supports this claim.

To enjoy this review in its entirety, as it appears in the January 12-18, 2011 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly, and in the Naples and Palm Beach Gardens editions for January 20-26, click here: Florida Weekly – H. Terrell Griffin

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