In the town of Trujillo, in Honduras, on the edge of the Mosquito Coast, Dr. Arturo Ochoa, a semi-retired psychiatrist, has a single patient: a troubled young man named Thomas Stearns, the son of a wealthy Atlanta family. Stearns has been found adrift on the Carribean in a vessel owned by two Nicaraguans, both of whom are missing; he has been alone for eighteen days and has little memory of that time. Suspected of murder, Stearns is unconcerned. He knows his family will buy off the police. But he is reluctant to leave Trujillo, having developed an odd affinity for the town. As therapy progresses, he tells of a mysterious stone figure regurgitated by, improbably, a whirlpool, and Dr. Ochoa, drawn into his pathology, begins to doubt not only Stearns' sanity, but his own.
Lucius Shepard (1947–2014) was an American writer. Classified as a science fiction and fantasy writer, he often leaned into other genres, such as magical realism. His work is infused with a political and historical sensibility and an awareness of literary antecedents.
Brief biographies are, like history texts, too organized to be other than orderly misrepresentations of the truth. So when it's written that Lucius Shepard was born in August of 1947 to Lucy and William Shepard in Lynchburg, Virginia, and raised thereafter in Daytona Beach, Florida, it provides a statistical hit and gives you nothing of the difficult childhood from which he frequently attempted to escape, eventually succeeding at the age of fifteen, when he traveled to Ireland aboard a freighter and thereafter spent several years in Europe, North Africa, and Asia, working in a cigarette factory in Germany, in the black market of Cairo's Khan al Khalili bazaar, as a night club bouncer in Spain, and in numerous other countries at numerous other occupations. On returning to the United States, Shepard entered the University of North Carolina, where for one semester he served as the co-editor of the Carolina Quarterly. Either he did not feel challenged by the curriculum, or else he found other pursuits more challenging. Whichever the case, he dropped out several times and traveled to Spain, Southeast Asia (at a time when tourism there was generally discouraged), and South and Central America. He ended his academic career as a tenth-semester sophomore with a heightened political sensibility, a fairly extensive knowledge of Latin American culture and some pleasant memories.