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"Flawless dialogue, warm characters and compassionate wit service a moving story about the powers of love and justice." ~ Publishers Weekly

On the surface, the town of Lake Esther, Florida appears as unruffled as the nearby lake that is its namesake. But beneath the apparent calm, a series of events—the death of county strongman Judge Howard Hightower, the ambitious plans of his protégé Sheriff K.A. DeLuth, and the arrival of Franklin Dare and his two young children—sets off a raging firestorm of injustice and soul-searching.

When the sheriff decrees the Dare children “a little on the too-tan side” and bans them from their all-white school, two women step boldly forward to challenge him: Lila Hightower, the Judge’s prodigal daughter, and Ruth Cooper Barrows, a veteran reporter. Lila and Ruth forge a dangerous alliance to protect the Dare children and to confront the town’s good-ol’-boy network. The result is a shattering no-holds-barred fight that will change the face of Lake Esther — and the lives of its inhabitants — forever.

Critical Praise

"Small-town Lake Esther used to be in Judge Hightower's pocket, but now that he's dead, control is up for grabs among powerful citrus growers, corrupt Sheriff DeLuth, and the town's law-abiding citizens... McCarthy offers a vivid portrait of mid-century corruption, and of some brave enough to risk everything for justice." ~ Kirkus Reviews

“A sharply drawn picture of a struggle for justice against a corrupt system. McCarthy’s characters are fascinatingly complex… She proves herself again at home with the times, the landscape and, most important, the necessary struggle for justice in an unjust era.” ~ The Orlando Sentinel

“Beautifully written….Removes the masks that people put in place for society’s sake, showing the often-ugly truth behind their actions….Stunning.” ~ Tallahassee Democrat

"A good story well told.[T]he primary characters are engaging, particularly [Lila] Hightower and Daniel, through whom much of the story is told. The narrative is strong, fueled by the real events it's based upon and their epochal milieu." ~ San Francisco Chronicle

“[McCarthy] writes with real conviction…on this rich theme.” ~ Miami Herald