Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
White, who has always had the talent, moves firmly into the major leagues with his latest Doc Ford story (after Sanibel Flats) and its lavish panorama of cross-cultural and environmental issues played out passionately in south Florida. The Florida Keys uneasily contain rich pleasure seekers and subsistence-level fisherman; someplace in the turbulent middle, Doc, a biologist, and his existentialist buddy Tomlinson hang out. As a ban on net fishing engenders increasing debate, a man is blown apart when an explosion demolishes a jetty. The sultry voodoo-practicing widow soon has Doc and Tomlinson hopelessly spellbound; her host of admirers includes others with drug and land-development interests. By this point, the sweep of White's prose and the earnest intensity he brings to the ecological debate will likely blind readers to a story line with holes large enough for marlin to swim through. Tomlinson is fascinated by the socioeconomics of a small, insular key with nothing but fishing to support it, while Doc is more intrigued by the herbs the widow places in the hot tea they sip prior to bouts of strenuous lovemaking. The conclusion embraces some sinister business with drug smuggling and a minor miracle of modern medicine. While it isn't quite clear how White gets to drug cartels from the charred remains of a lazy brain-fried doper who liked hitting attractive, oversexed women, the whole weird trip, fueled by the author's thoroughly convincing re-creation of his chosen and much-loved world, is a blast. (Apr.)
The victim of an explosion at Dinkin's Bay Marina on Sanibel Island, commercial fisherman Jimmy Darroux mumbles, "Take care of Hannah" before he dies. Aging hippie Tomlinson, to whom Jimmy's words were addressed, enlists the aid of his best pal, Doc Ford, a former government agent turned seaside biologist. Burdened by a disconcerting tendency to see both sides of an issue, Doc recognizes that Jimmy's death is somehow tied to the friction between commercial and sport fishermen. He agrees to help find the mysterious Hannah, but his real motive is to derail a confrontation that could see many of his friends hurt. And hurt they are when the violence escalates. White's fourth Doc Ford novel gathers momentum slowly--its pace is not unlike the hypnotic rhythm of the surf--until the last 100 pages or so, when all hell breaks loose. Characters we have grown fond of meet bad ends, a truly evil villain is exposed, and Ford drops his intellectual guise: he's a born predator, and he exacts a horrible but just revenge. This is a top-shelf thriller written with poetic style and vision. Don't miss it.
In the seconds between touching off a homemade bomb in Dinkin's Bay and giving up the ghost, Jimmy Darroux asks "Doc" Ford's buddy Tomlinson to "take care of Hannah." But when Ford and Tomlinson make the trip to nearby Sulphur Wells to see Jimmy's salty widow, it turns out she hated him and his abuse and is delighted he's dead (and she's not the only one). So what did he mean, and how can they take care of her? At her invitation, spacey mystic Tomlinson settles in to help her work on a book about her family, while marine biologist Ford wonders why the invitation didn't go to him. He wonders too whether Jimmy was killed because he got in the middle of a battle over the banning of net fishing, or because he knew too much about a ring of boat thievesor because of Hannah herself. As he treads a wary line between the equally untrusting camps of commercial fishers and sports fishers, Ford finds himself drawn more and more to Hannah Smith Darroux, and more and more threatened by the friends and admirers who've ringed themselves around her, till all three of themFord, Hannah, and Tomlinsonare in danger.
Having established his Carl Hiaasen credentials with The Man Who Invented Florida (1993), White sounds a more ruminative note in this mixture of James W. Hall and John D. MacDonald. Ford takes every chance to stop and smell the hibiscus, and fans of tangled Florida intrigue will want to join him.