Best New Novelist (2005)
As some of our long-time readers might remember, Rowe holds the dubious distinction of having been the very first staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach when it was launched back in the last century (circa 1997). But after about 18 months on the job, he decided to leave the sprawling madness of South Florida for the sprawling countryside of a North Carolina farm to write fiction. Before heading out, though, he showed his own personal flare for stunning plot twists. Rowe was hit by a train on the night of his going-away party in the Himmarshee district. It was a bizarre accident, and, though he suffered serious injuries, Rowe lived not only to tell that tale but the one he spins in Fever, a novel he completed in 2003. Little, Brown and Co. gave Rowe a two-book deal and a sizable advance, making our little hearts quiver with pride (and, yes, not a small amount of jealousy). Fever is a "blood-soaked Florida potboiler," as he gamely describes it, about a heist on a cruise ship. And it will sail into bookstores this October. We haven't had the pleasure of reading Fever yet, but rest assured that Rowe, who worked for the Miami Herald before New Times, is a uniquely talented writer with one very sharp, irony-laced eye for Florida-baked pulp. If you don't believe it, go to the New Times website and check out some old clips, starting with "Big Chief Moneybags," his 1998 cover story on former Seminole leader James Billie. Then mark your calendar to buy the book.