Florida has always been known as a unique part of the United States. Great fortunes and cities have been built out of the swampy marshlands by the rare breed of individual who could withstand the forbidding terrain and create something from nothing. Amidst the palatial McMansions that line Florida’s wealthiest neighborhoods, though, there has always been an undercurrent of abject poverty. Such impoverishment has paradoxically been the source of the desperation as well as the innovation that created the state’s vast wealth and beauty.
Dawber County, a small township nestled between southern Naples and Everglades City along the Gulf Coast, is the embodiment of the hopeful dream that is the Florida life—and the painful reality of that existence. Dawber is a place forged during the freewheeling days of the bootleg liquor craze that was brought about by Prohibition. It has historically produced rapacious brigands looking for a quick path out of the marshes of poverty. Dawber County itself is built on vice, run on corruption, and ruled by a handful of elite Southern families, who’ve little interest in the people who live just beyond their well-maintained walls.
After a hugely successful run as a narcotics distribution point for the Medellin Cartel of Colombia in the 1980s, the federal authorities descended upon Dawber and arrested most of the adult population—all of whom had played a significant role in the drug trade there. The mastermind of the drug running operation, an accountant named Johnny Malone, mysteriously disappeared the night that the feds arrived. Many townsfolk suspected that it was Johnny who called the authorities, as part of a power play against his business partner, Bocephus Dawber (after whose family the county was named). Many more Dawber residents believed that Johnny had hidden millions of dollars in airtight bags in the murky depths of the Dawber County swamps before he disappeared, intending to eventually return and reclaim that cash. Malone’s missing millions have become a gangland legend in the decade after the federal authorities shut the drug running operation down, with criminals the world over seeking it.
In the aftermath of the federal raid, Dawber became a ghost town. In 2003, however, the children of Johnny Malone and the other Dawber County residents who were involved in the drug running trade have grown tired of living beneath the poverty line in the forgotten swamps of Dawber County. With many of the men who were arrested by the federal government set to be released, three teenagers, Alex Gregory, Bones Malone, and Billy Dawber (nephew of Bocephus Dawber) conspire to find Johnny Malone’s missing millions before anyone else can.
This is a tale of scrappy and resourceful teenagers, who’ve nothing to lose, going on the greatest adventure of their young lives. It is The Outsiders meets The Sopranos with elements reminiscent of Elmore Leonard’s Justified series, and AMC’s Breaking Bad sprinkled in for good measure. In the course of this gripping caper, the boys will sojourn from the alligator-infested swamps of Dawber to the high rises of Miami and back. The three boys meet strange and terrifying people—all while defying the odds. They race against gun-toting rednecks, bloodthirsty Haitians, twisted ex-convicts, and corrupt law enforcement officers as they all struggle to lay claim to Johnny Malone’s missing $5 million. And in the course of their exploits,
these three best friends soon discover things about themselves, their families, and life itself that will forever change their fortunes—and the destiny of Dawber County.
The series targets fans of young adult coming-of-age fiction, crime sagas, and anti-hero fiction. It will appeal to a wide cross-section of people, ranging from young adult fiction readers to those interested in the power plays of the criminal underworld. Since this is a crime saga with storylines that link back not just decades, but almost a century, this story will also resonate with people who enjoy historical fiction. And since the heroes of the story are themselves engaged in a criminal enterprise, the audience will essentially be rooting for the villains. The anti-hero craze has become a hugely successful market today and this story will appeal to such readers.
Sawgrass Wars will appeal to readers who enjoyed:
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