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Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite
It is 1995 and South Carolina Senator Buck Ravenel smiles, knowing that his gift of special snakeskin cowboy boots to his friend Judge Dupree Jones was a good thank you for political favors. Ravenel, Jones, Ravenel's longtime friend Vince Stone and all their associates and friends understand well the Code of the Forest which is "friends to the end" and making sure all of their allies have "ducks in their freezer"(political payoffs). Now Buck has friends who want to build the Carolina Phosphate plant on the Waccamaw River on a location just above Wright's Landing, once the site of the old Rice Heart Plantation and now the property of the Wright family, whose ancestors were plantation slaves. Environmentalists oppose the phosphate plant as it will poison the Waccamaw River and destroy the Carolina low country's balance of nature and its intricate food chain. Wade Hampton's family newspaper, the "Georgetown Pilot", publishes information that reveals Carolina Phosphate's money involvement with South Carolina's politicians, notably Buck Ravenel, and lawyer Kate Stewart defends Wade in Judge Dupree Jones' court. Now how do they have a chance against the network of South Carolina political intrigue?
"The Code of the Forest" is a brilliantly written and well-edited story that will hold any reader's interest until its very last page. Jon Buchan is a first-rate writer and his abilities come through loud and strong in this story of intertwined lives and political intrigue that is second to none. The characters of Kate Stewart, Wade Hampton and their families are memorable. Buck Ravenel, Judge Jones, Vince Stone and the men who use Bowman's Forest, a hunting and game preserve, are well-created and totally believable, despite their behind the scene corruption or as they called it, "friends to the end". "Code of the Forest" is a memorable story of memorable people with that flavor that only novels of the South can give.