by Daryl Haskew
Author Reputation Press

"Like a wild beast in search of food, she drank in every ounce of available energy, blasting it into outer space, driving her fury to a fever pitch."

Coastal towns always gamble with nature, often losing the roll of the dice. Portersville (a real place south of Mobile, Alabama, on the Gulf of Mexico) is one such town. Haskew retrieves history in this fictional account based on primary research and brings Portersville to life through a map and the saga of the Papatonis family, who arrived from Greece in 1885. Cy and Selena Papatonis flee Mafia persecution and meet a cast of characters that coalesce into enduring friendships and prosperity. Obstacles abound that limn history and culture in this fishing town. The Papatonis family and friends fight organized crime in hotel casinos and child labor in the famous Alabama Canning Company, sometimes using the voodoo that pervades these witchy waters. Cy's Spartan heritage lends thrilling fist fights a professional air, fueled by his devotion to pankration, an anything-goes martial art dating to the first Greek Olympic Games.

Hurricanes embody a man-against-nature theme, especially the one in 1906 that ended the town's prosperity. Personification renders a storm's vibration a "hungry beast," consuming the warmth of the Gulf and driving it skyward, "increasing her appetite even more" to fill the "vacuum inside the eye."

Haskew knows nature's fury from growing up in Portersville and living through Hurricane Camille in 1969, which took his home. Two subsequent dwellings were swallowed, and now he lives in a trailer, moveable when hurricanes threaten. Haskew does a fine job of romanticizing the past and bringing it alive through a colorful cast of characters, including noble Greeks, shrimp boat captains, voodoo queens, Mafia dons, and Creek Indian archetypes. History buffs will enjoy the historically accurate progress of a real coastal town, from the first shrimp boat to pleasure boats and casinos through electricity and automobiles.

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