When a mysterious oblong box arrives in backwater Dead Lakes, Florida, its contents complicate things for Ella. It isn’t easy, but Ella Wallace is doing the best she can; she runs the family commissary and takes care of her three sons, Samuel, Keaton and Macon. Her husband Harlan, a gambler and opium addict, has run off and abandoned them, but not before losing her family land to the town bully, Clive Gillespie.
Clive wants Ella—always has—though he will settle for the town’s crazy girl in a pinch. Sixteen year old Ruby wears a red sequined turban and treats the town’s occupants to a one woman parade every Friday (and don’t you dare argue with her if it isn’t Friday) complete with high-stepping, and a pumping baton that is slightly dangerous to bystanders. When Harlan forged his wife’s signature and lost Ella’s land to Clive he set his wife squarely down in the path of both Clive’s ambition, and his long thwarted lust. Aided by Narissa, a Native American woman who just arrived one day and never left, and Lanier, a cousin to her missing husband, Ella battles Clive for possession of the land she cannot give up.
Clive has big plans for the land, home to a magical spring that is still visited by locals who believe the waters can heal. He lures a famous evangelical preacher (Hear me now!) and the preacher’s sickly wife to Dead Lakes with dreams of building ‘Eden’, a money making center of enlightenment and healing. But to make that happen Clive must first vanquish Ella, and that proves more difficult than he thought it would be. Turns out it requires hired thugs.
Man in the Blue Moon explores topics of spiritual healing, addiction, greed, gossip, faithfulness and the lust for power. Particularly enjoyable are the sly wit behind the conversation during a breakfast shared by Myer Simpson, the Reverend Simpson and the local school teacher. And the depiction of Clive as a small man who will do anything to get what he wants. In the character of Clive, Morris’s writing is at times chilling in its portrayal of a malevolence made doubly horrifying by its easy believability and its complete lack of conscience.
In an escalating battle that will leave three of the main characters dead, Michael Morris’s Man in the Blue Moon delivers a beautifully depicted tale of the struggle between good and evil that lingers in the imagination long after closing the book.