I almost gave up on this book after finding the first chapter almost unintelligible as there are too many unfamiliar characters and an assumed understanding of the vernacular English spoken around Florida c1900. However, I'm glad I persevered as this is an excellent book which I found profound and highly enjoyable. The book contains a number of chapters from various residents of Southwest Floirida(some reliable witnesses and others less so) and explores the myth around the eponymous Mr Watson. Mr Watson is a complex character known by some for his generosity but feared by all. Hamilton lives in pioneer territory and rumours abound about his past. The life of Chevalier, an early French settler, is beautifully desribed by third parties. I would highly recommend the 'Richard Hamilton'chapters as they are full of humanity and explore the complex race relations in the area.
The themes best explored by this book are racism, the development of rumour and hearsay into myth, man's inhumanuty to his fellow man and the plundering of resources. Whilst this is a fictionalised account of real events it is clear that the author has a passion for his subject and has researched it thoroughly. This book beautifully evokes a distant time and place and I would highly recommend it.