Sand Pail City begins with the introduction of Mayor Marshall Brickman. The reader is given a look into his background, his political aspirations, and the fact that he is deeply disturbed by the threat of exposure for his misuse of his political position. He exerted undue pressure to personally profit from the development of several ostentatious gated communities.
The arrival of Dusty Johnson in Sand Pail City stirs up some bitter feelings among the former residents of a former cottage community located on the current location of Brickman’s development because of Dusty’s uncanny resemblance to Bill Holly, a former fisherman and community leader, known for his outspoken verbal attacks against the town council. Holly and his wife were tragically killed in a mysterious boat fire more than 20 years earlier. Their young son was left in the care of relatives in another city.
Mayor Brickman is thrown off balance as a spirit of revenge becomes apparent at the worst possible time for his political career. Plans are underway for him to be named the new lieutenant governor candidate in the next election.
A complex series of events move this multifaceted plot forward; the conflict grows between the old-time locals and Brickman’s mafia-like partners resulting in a mushrooming suspicion of their involvement in the fire that took Holly’s life, to pave the way for the development of the ocean side shopping restaurants and golf communities for the tourists, the well-heeled, and newly retired.
Dusty’s inference that he was Bill Holly’s son to Redman, a fisherman and longtime resident of the area, who is seeking revenge against the mayor and his partners for the underhanded and illegal way they operated in acquiring property from the cottage community, results in the word quickly spreading throughout the community that Holly’s son is back in the area. His motives for returning become an item of speculation and excitement among the old timers hoping for some kind of revenge on Mayor Brickman and his associates.