Probably read in 70s or early 80s. Probably set in the Caribbeans or Florida Coast, or Gulf Coast. The book may have been a mystery or thriller/adventure type story. It was in English

A low IQ man (He is capable, just slow) probably in his 30s finds a girl adrift on a lift raft/or ship wreckage. She is badly burned on her back/backside/back of the legs. He takes her to his cabin/hut he has built on a small island or cove where he lives away from civilization. (He sails to the nearest town occasionally to buy staple foods. (He might have been a Vietnam Vet on disability allowance? Head wound with a plate in his head?)

I don't recall if she was burned when the small ship (cabin cruiser/yacht/sailboat) she was on was was blown up/caught fire, or went overboard and was very badly sunburned because she had been adrift with no protection for many days.

I believe the Protagonist of the story is looking for the girl (Police? or Private Detective?)

There are two scenes I distinctly remember from the story:

One - A day or two after he finding her, she drowsily wakes up but is still half out of it, in his hut lying on her stomach. She is in great pain from her burned back. He is rubbing some cream/lotion/oil on her and it is soothing most of the burning pain. He is chatting away talking to himself as he applies the ointment. She is mostly drifting in and out, not paying any attention to what he is saying until she hears him say something like "cute burned baby butt" and realizes she is naked and he is rubbing the ointment on her bare butt. Just as she starts to panic, he pats he butt, gets up and says something that makes her realize she is safe he is not assaulting her. (i.e. Thats enough now, I have to go fix some food? catch some fish? work on the boat?)

Two - The low IQ man is very physically fit and strong, but has a strangely dished in forehead. a few days later (Maybe the girl is telling him her story, or she is asking him about his, he starts getting very distressed or anxious. He stands up goes to the center pole or roof support of the hut, grabs it and starts slamming his head against the pole many times. (The rounded edge of the pole perfectly matches the dished in shape of his forehead) She freaks and finally gets him to stop. He says something like when the bad thoughts/voices get too bad he has to knock them out of his head. They bond together (She keeping him stable. and He hiding her while she heals.)

I think it Might have been a three way triangle/race story between:

  • The Protagonist (Police?/Private Eye?) who is looking for her,
  • Whoever caused her to be in the ocean (destroyed her boat or threw her overboard) who realizes her body never turned up and is looking for her again.
  • and the low IQ man/girl who are trying to avoid everyone.

I think the Protagonist knows the low IQ man and would looks out for him. (May have been together in the service) I think before he found the girl he used to come into town every couple months to go to the local bar and get drunk and get into fights or sleep with an ugly old prostitute. I think the protagonist used to occasionally bail him out or give him a place to sleep it off if he got into trouble.

  • That's a really nice and detailed ID question! – Rand al'Thor Sep 11 at 13:02
  • Sounds like a John D. Macdonald story. (See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._MacDonald .) – kimchi lover Sep 12 at 20:58
  • I have read a lot of John D MacDonald many years ago. Its a possibility. It feels like what I remember of his style. – NJohnny Sep 20 at 0:07
  • Sorry did not reply sooner, been spending the last week no power from Hurricane Florence. – NJohnny Sep 20 at 1:29
  • Have been reviewing the John D MacDonald's I have access to but have not seen it yet. – NJohnny Sep 24 at 1:06

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