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This is a review of "The Edge of the Gulf" by Hadley Hury. I was attracted to this book because it is set on Florida's gulf coast, an area that I love. The author does an excellent job of describing the physical beauty of the Florida panhandle as well as its people and culture. The ugliness of what happens is in direct contrast to the beauty of the land and its inhabitants. In his first novel, Hury explores themes of grief, friendship, greed and manipulation.

The characters in the book are well-drawn and interesting. Grief-stricken teacher and film critic  Hudson DeForest has just lost his wife so he returns to Laurel Beach for the summer in the hopes of finding some peace. He plans to work on a book of movie reviews and to re-connect with an old friend, Charlie Brompton.

Charlie is a successful developer and restauranteur who has decided it's time to let go. But he is not sure how to do that. His brother has recently died, leaving only a nephew, Chaz as a possible heir.

 Chaz appears to have settled down after a some-what troubled youth and is married to a charming ex-actress named Sydney.  Chaz and Sydney know that Charlie may decide to  leave his wealth in a land trust. They plan a scheme that will give them what they think they deserve but they must act before Charlie can change his will.

There are several other interesting characters including staff at Charlie's restaurant, friends (old and new), a religious fanatic, a beautiful Golden Retriever and a cat.

As Hudson works on his book of movie critiques, they are included throughout the story. These reviews reflect events in the novel and while some readers find them distracting,  they help chart his emotional state as he deals with his loss. In a review of "American History X" he writes:

Films remain to be made that force us finally to confront the frighteningly demoralizing complexities of race in America, and the fact that much of the us vs. them fear and hatred in our society - whether racial, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-intellectual - is engendered, or at least abetted for political purposes, not by the more obvious fringe dwellers, but by those in church pulpits and legislatures, and, more recently, and perhaps most frighteningly, even by major news networks who wrap themselves loud and long in the most insidious forms of demagogic religion and patriotism.
I knew that I wanted to share this book here at Daily Kos when I read that quote!

Hopefully, this review will inspire some of you to read "The Edge of the Gulf" and if you do, please let me know what you think of it. In the meantime, perhaps we could discuss the quote. While Hury wrote those words in 2007, they are truer today than ever. The evil that takes place in the book is just a taste of what could happen in America if these forces continue to grow.

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