Shadow Men

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Shadow Men is a masterful novel. Jonathon King draws the reader into the Everglades of the 1920’s with the vicious murder of Cyrus Mayes and his sons on a moonlit night. Then the mystery and intrigue begin. Mark Mayes, a young college student from Atlanta comes to Florida searching for truth. Mark is the great-grandson of Cyrus Mayes. After finding letters written to his great-grandmother in 1923, he retains Billy Manchester to investigate the real circumstances surrounding the deaths of his relatives.

Max Freeman is then drawn into the fray, almost against his will, and what follows is a gripping tale of courage, honor, greed, and deception. A private investigator and former Philadelphia policeman, he came to the Glades seeking respite from the violence of the big city, and to soothe his own damaged spirit. Yet Max is compelled to follow this investigation wherever it leads. He is committed to unearthing the truth.

King weaves a tale of flawed characters, each seeking to salve their own pain. The escapades of Max and old Nate Brown, a local icon of the Glades, are described in prose that is lyrical, almost poetic, in its description of the lush beauty of the Everglades. There is danger and suspense, yet this novel is easy to read. One is truly drawn into the text as the story unfolds. The history of the construction of the Tamiami Trail becomes the backdrop for a classic tale of good versus evil that transcends time, and touches succeeding generations in a way that rivets the reader’s attention through the closing sentence. In a very real sense, this is a novel about Everyman, and the potential for good and evil within each one of us.