The time-line—starting with elementary school in the innocent 1960s, through high school in the drug-infused 1970s, and the high school reunion in 1995—roughly coincide with Dorian’s chronology. They always say, “Write what you know.”
Hollywood is sandwiched between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Dorian spent his formative years on the beach doing the activities described in the book: surfing, diving and fishing.
The feel and milieu of the eras and places in South Florida described in the book are accurate, but most specific locations are fictional. Specifically, there’s no Seabreeze Towers or Tradewinds bar on Hollywood Beach. Likewise, there was never a Sunset Fishing Pier in Hollywood, although Dorian grew up fishing off the nearby Dania Beach pier, which today features a cool bar and restaurant called the Quarterdeck with unbeatable 360 degree views.
The Hollywood boardwalk is the highway of beach life. Locals call it “the boardwalk” even though it is technically a “broadwalk,” made of bricks rather than boards. Old-timers will remember that as late as the 1980s it was only a strip of asphalt.
Hollywood Beach resisted crass development much longer than most other South Florida coastal towns, retaining a small-town feel that lasts even today. While the Play-Land pinball arcade, trampolines, and miniature golf are long-gone, the paddleball courts at Garfield Street are still going strong. On the other hand, new mega-developments like the Margaritaville Resort, towering above the quaint Johnson Street bandshell, probably portend of things to come.
In Jacksonville, the description of the Riverwalk is accurate, except for a few details as to how it is physically configured near the South end. Ocala is a lovely community in North Central Florida, but details about it described in the book are fictional.
There really was a rock quarry that inspired Sugar Lake and it really was reputed to be full of bodies dumped by mobsters. Hollywood was a summer home for several of the Mafia elite back in the day. Dorian and his pals really did go scuba diving in Sugar Lake one afternoon in search of dead bodies, but as described in the book, found only the copy machine and rusty bicycle.
“An engaging thriller with plenty of humor, good characterization, and a memorable villain …”
— Kirkus Reviews