The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

The Hooker, the Dancer, and the Nun: A Pine Island Mystery

Book Reviews

by John D. Mills

Three young women, all with distinctly different personalities, meet in college in 1995. Lacy Turner, nicknamed “the hooker” because of her love for fishing, Susan Kelly, of privileged upbringing, nicknamed “the dancer” because of her love for dancing at the many parties she would attend, and Patricia Hendricks, nicknamed “the nun” due to her strong faith and will to keep her virginity throughout high school and her college years. At the University of Florida in Gainesville, the readers are introduced to the three characters and their very diverse lifestyles.

Flash forward 20 years to courtroom 6B of the Lee County Courthouse in Ft. Myers. Lacy Turner is before the court accused of the gruesome murder of her friend, Susan Kelly, in addition to the disappearance of Patricia Hendricks. What was supposed to be a relaxing girls’ weekend on a houseboat in the Gulf of Mexico turns out to be a nightmare of epic proportions. The highly experienced and witty prosecutor, Frank Powers, is determined to raise his 92 percent conviction rate against Lacy’s friend and defense attorney, Amanda Blayne, who had previously been discredited in the Miami legal community due to her illicit affair with her married supervisor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Frank Powers delivers a powerful and compelling opening statement. The prosecution parades witness after witness to the stand and strategically lays the groundwork for a very convincing motive for murder. Facebook rants and angry text messages paint a colorful picture and may very well be the nails in Lacy’s coffin.

Lacy cannot defend herself to the jury, having been rendered unconscious by tequila and with no recollection of any events that happened prior to the police arriving. However, the defense is meticulous and methodical in its cross-examination of the prosecution’s witnesses in the hopes of interrupting the state’s momentum. What follows is four days of extraordinary litigation culminating with a verdict that no reader could have predicted. Author John D. Mills does an outstanding job of keeping the reader engaged and wanting more. A Ft. Myers native, he peppers this marvelous and modern crime thriller with his vast knowledge of boating, fishing, and Southwest Florida history. Note, this book contains adult content.

Marcy L. Shaw is a member of The Florida Bar.