No Name Key was released on May 7, 2014 and is my first novel. The print version is available on Amazon for $14.99 and the Kindle version for $4.99. Click on the image to go to Amazon. And thank you!
Praise for No Name Key:
In this book you learn trees as well as mean men and hurricanes can kill you. Elle, the book’s protagonist, is as tough and amoral as the crabs that crawl and consume their way through Jessica Argyle’s narrative. As one particularly startling gustatory scene demonstrates, that’s not all she has in common with the crustaceans. One blustery night in France, I read No Name Key cover to cover, glad I’d locked the door and closed the shutters.
– TD Allman, author
Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State
Miami: City of the Future
Argyle’s No Name Key: local history for survivors A REVIEW BY C.S. GILBERT
Those of us who are survivors of myriad calamities have many forms and take many paths. Those of us who are men are often lionized, praised, cheered. Those of us who are women, however, can be smothered by the ancient stereotype that a woman needs to be protected, indeed saved by a man. No Name Key, the debut novel by Jessica Argyle, a year-round resident literary artist at The Studios of Key West, kicks that stereotype on its ass. This book is not for sissies. It looks frankly into the hardships of Keys history, especially the aftermath of the Great Hurricane of 1935. But beyond the historical, the book is a hymn to survival, particularly through the eyes of Elle Woodson, the main character, whose will to live is tested even before the hurricane, a Category Five monster recently deemed the most destructive hurricane in the history of the United States. Counterpoint to this monster is the much smaller monstrosity of Billy Woodman, Elle’s husband. Written in clear, forthright prose, the plot is not for the faint of heart. But for the contemporary survivor, particularly women who survive abuse, Elle is a heroine to look up to, even if the view be divided equally between horror, awe and admiration. It is in the aftermath of the storm that the tension builds; No Name Key becomes peopled by spirits, benign and not, and returning visitors with muddy motives. The mix of Christian and pagan – or certainly homely superstition — is the defining spice of the dish; they come to serve as Elle’s primary motivation. Argyle’s narrative is strong and sometimes lovely; doubting herself, Elle identifies with the cat that is “all swagger and little substance.” With little dialogue, Elle’s story moves forward as a small, sturdy boat in a choppy sea, becoming more and more compelling as the journey continues. All in all: a good read and a memorable local history lesson.
From KONK LIFE
This is a terrific story, told with an attention to detail and an unswerving eye on just what it takes to kill a man and get away with it; as well as what it takes to grow tomatoes in the Keys and how to make poison from the tree that stands like the tree of Knowledge at the center of the island and the story. I couldn’t stop reading once I had started, as I followed Elle Woodman’s struggles to survive as a woman alone on No Name Key at the time of the 1935 hurricane. She grows in the space of the narrative from a victimized wife to a subtle and powerful figure, and whatever she has done, we are with her all the way. The atmosphere of the time, the fragility of life in the outlying islands, the intensity of the action and above all the way that a murder goes on sending out its ripple effects long after the initial killing, haunting the murderer and poisoning the environment, reminded me most of all of Peter Matthiessen’s “the Killing of Mr. Watson.” A gripping first novel: I hope for more from this writer.
– Rosalind Brackenbury, author of Becoming George Sand, The House in Morocco, The Circus at the End of the World and other novels, short stories and poetry collections
No Name Key is the story of Elle, a woman for all seasons, a survivor against all odds. Set against the deluge of the great Labor Day hurricane of 1935 that killed hundreds in the Florida Keys, Elle wages her own personal battles against an abusive husband and the evil Mrs. Rowlands. Sometimes lyrical, sometimes grisly and always hypnotic, Argyle’s tale is edge of your seat reading from start to finish. Beautifully crafted.
– Jonathan Woods, award-winning author of Phone Call From Hell, Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem and A Death in Mexico