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Faye Longcham has lost nearly everything except for her quick mind and a grim determination to hang onto her ancestral home, Joyeuse, a moldering plantation hidden along the Florida coast. Fay has inherited the island plantation and the family tenacity:

When the property taxes rise beyond her means, she sets out to save Joyeuse by digging for artifacts on her property and the surrounding National Wildlife Refuge and selling them on the black market. A big valuable chunk of the past would save her -home forever. But instead of arrowheads, she uncovers a woman's shattered skull, a Jackie Kennedy-style earring nestled against its bony cheek. Faye is torn. If she reports the murder, she'll reveal her illegal livelihood, risking jail and losing Joyeuse. She doesn't intend this to happen, so she probes into the dead woman's history, unaware that the past is rushing up on her like a hurricane across the deceptively calm Gulf waters...