Fiction. Scott Ely's latest novel is the chronicle of two down-river journeys, disparate in time, but oddly merging in intensity, and finally, intent. When Robert Day discovers a French diary written by an ex-slave named Octavius-who fled to Haiti after murdering his master, and his lover, for initiating plans to take a wife-he immediately decides to imitate Octavius' journey down Pearl River to the Gulf of Mexico, driven by his own grief over his murdered wife. But as Robert travels, and translates the diary, he learns just how terribly violent Octavius' escape was. And that violence soon emerges not only in Robert's life, but in the lives of the three men accompanying him on the journey.