A legal thriller with a vein of agriculture that reads like a hometown map

History, good vs. evil, and twists of fate combine in this fictional novel

DO YOU LOVE historical fiction with a vein of agriculture growing throughout? How about a legal thriller that flashes between the drama of a present-day courthouse and the hallowed grounds of World War II Europe? If you’ve answered a resounding “yes” to either question (and who wouldn’t?), then The Crestfallen Rose is for you. Authored by agriculture and environmental lawyer Michael Martin, this novel features all the aspects that make literature truly great: history, good vs. evil, twists of fate, and a Sunshine State setting that will read like a hometown map to all ag and nature lovers in Florida.

The story starts out with a formula — a miracle pesticide, to be exact — that begins life in a German scientist’s lab just as Hitler’s Third Reich is really gearing up to wreak havoc among the people of Europe and beyond. The quest for the formula launches Amalia Hecht and her uncle Karl through Germany and Switzerland and beyond as they try desperately to keep the formula from the Nazi Gestapo. They cross paths with many, including one Rachel Wisemann; she’s a young Jewish girl who is running from the SS for her own reasons. Like Amalia, Rachel’s travels set many dominoes in motion through time and space.

The story also skips, fast-forward style, to present day, where lawyer David King is in Miami, readying for the legal fight of his life in federal court against the corporate giant, Worldwide Chemical. His client, Ally Talbot, claims that Worldwide Chemical’s product — also a pesticide — has caused her daughter Samantha to be born blind. Ally owns a nursery that specializes in growing roses, and she believes the use of the pesticide in her nursery’s rose greenhouses took her little Sam’s sight while Sam was just a baby in the womb. In the meantime, David grapples with his own regrets over the past and concerns for the future. As in all David-and-Goliath tales, lawyer David King and client Ally have seemingly insurmountable obstacles before them that amount to a stacked deck, such as cold-hearted opposing council, a federal judge who is too fixated on climbing the ladder, and the conflicting accounts of a Nobel Prize winner.

Only time will tell if the past can meet the present in time to get justice for one blind little girl and the blind children like her the world over. Along the whirlwind ride, any Florida-friendly reader will be thrilled to read as David King speeds along Alligator Alley, as Ally Talbot recalls the flowers she sent to Selby Gardens, as a retired University of Florida professor and Extension Agent testifies against Worldwide Chemical or as little Samantha Talbot is graced with a landing butterfly at Butterfly World. The twists and turns of the court case are fast-paced and dramatic, with everything balancing on a thread as the book comes to a breathtaking finish.


article by ERIKA ALDRICH

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