Everglades (Doc Ford Series #10)

Everglades (Doc Ford Series #10)

4.6 57
by Randy Wayne White
     
 

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Doc Ford returns to his stilt house on Dinkin's Bay to find an old friend and one-time lover waiting for him. Her real-estate developer husband has disappeared and been pronounced dead, and she's sure there's worse to follow-and she's right. Following the trail, Ford ends up deep in the Everglades, at the gates of a community presided over by a man named Bhagwan

Overview

Doc Ford returns to his stilt house on Dinkin's Bay to find an old friend and one-time lover waiting for him. Her real-estate developer husband has disappeared and been pronounced dead, and she's sure there's worse to follow-and she's right. Following the trail, Ford ends up deep in the Everglades, at the gates of a community presided over by a man named Bhagwan Shiva (formerly Jerry Singh). Shiva is big business, but that business has been a little shaky lately, and so he's come up with a scheme to enhance both his cash and his power. Of course, there's the possibility that some people could get hurt and the Everglades itself damaged, but Shiva smells a killing.

And if that should turn out to be literally, as well as figuratively, true...well, that's just too damned bad.

Replete with passion and rich, pungent prose and some of the best suspense characters anywhere in fiction, Everglades is the finest work yet from an extraordinary talent.

Editorial Reviews

People
White brings vivid imagination to his fight scenes...it all roars along with cliffhanger chapter endings and great technogear.
Publishers Weekly
This 10th novel in the series featuring ex-CIA spook turned marine biologist Doc Ford (Twelve Mile Limit, etc.), finds Doc wallowing deep in his own doldrums. Out of shape, overweight, depressed and drinking heavily to escape from his turbulent past, Doc gets a surprise visit from Sally Minster, a former lover, whose real estate developer hubby, Geoff, is reported to have been drowned in a boating accident off Bimini six months ago. Soon to inherit his estate, Sally is being followed by an insurance investigator who may have evidence her husband is still alive. Accompanied by his hippie Zen master pal, Sighurdhr Tomlinson, Doc follows the insurance investigator deep into the Everglades, where Geoff turns out to have been in cahoots with a phony guru, Bhagwan Shiva, founder of the International Church of Ashram Meditation Inc. Geoff helped him build one of his new "theme" ashrams to attract rich South Floridians and jet setters, destroying precious Everglades forest in the process. The Bhagwan and his henchman, Izzy Kline, a Mossad-trained former Israeli soldier, are plotting to engineer a series of explosions, enacting the mythic Seminole Chief Tecumseh's earthquake prophecy of 1811. Free-love religious cults, ecological destruction, murder and kidnapping propel Doc and his band of quirky Florida Gulf Coast beach denizens on a dizzying airboat race across the Everglades, where Doc battles his own demons when he's not battling a real live bull shark. The busy plot gets a bit ragged in places, but while it's not White's career best, this satisfying, madcap fare could well go seismic on the regional bestseller lists. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Marine biologist Doc Ford is depressed. He's convinced that he's become a Jonah whose friends seeking his help are buying into his bad luck. At Dinkin's Bay Marina, Doc's neighbors are worried. Doc is drinking too much and putting on the pounds. Gone are those Spartan daily workouts that kept him buff. And-woe on woe-as Doc gains flab, so do his plot lines. His tenth adventure (Twelve Mile Limit, 2002, etc.) is kicked off by his childhood pal and ex-lover Sally Minster, who turns up unexpectedly at his stilt house with a colorless tale of a husband missing and presumed-well, is he really dead? Though Sally doesn't seem over-invested in the answer, she inclines toward the theory that Geoff is living, breathing, and scamming his insurance company and whoever else he can. Among the others, she identifies a cult leader named Bhagwan Shiva, crooked as the stereotype allows, a sometime associate of her dear departed husband. Shiva, suffering temporary cash-flow problems, has a wicked real estate dodge planned for the Everglades, one that promises as much help to his coffers as harm to the environs. So off Doc goes with a triple objective: (l) get the skinny on the missing Geoff Minster, (2) stymie Shiva, and (3) recover his lost joie de vivre. Doc will always have the Glades, of course: the hermit crabs, the cypress trees, the Native Americans, and other edifying people, causes, and digressions. But whatever happened to the deft storyteller who could once build such a head of narrative steam?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781587244681
Publisher:
Cengage Gale
Publication date:
09/28/2003
Series:
Doc Ford Series, #10
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
469
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.66(h) x 1.05(d)

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

izzy

Izzy Kline said to Shiva, "Today, she hopped in her Beamer and drove across the Everglades to Sanibel Island. She's got a couple of friends there, so it could be she's looking for help: a marine biologist named Ford, and someone whose name you might recognize."

Shiva was wearing sandals and a Seminole medicine jacket, rag-patched, rainbow reds, greens, yellows, belted around his waist like a bathrobe. Shiva's hair was cut Shawnee style: a fifty-six-year-old male, born to a Canadian mother in Bombay, India-indifferent to the irony.

He was standing in a bedroom that was larger than some of the West Palm Beach homes he could see across the Intracoastal canal through the western window of his beach compound.

In the bedroom was a Buddha-shaped bed with canopy, a gymnasium with sauna, a meditation corner, an office with computers and security monitors. The place was done in white tile and teak, all decorations in gold except for several wooden figurines on the walls. There was a carving of an impressionistic cat, several masks with horrific faces and two rare Seminole totemic masks.

The carvings had been added within the last two years.

Shiva said to Izzy, "I haven't seen or talked to you in a month. So why do you show up now, bothering me with this garbage?"

"It seemed important. She doesn't believe her husband's dead. I already told you."

"You've been working for me for-what?-ten, twelve years. You know I hate details-as if I have the time. I don't care about this woman."

"Details-Jesus Christ, are you kidding? If she finds out the truth about what happened to Geoff Minster, say good-bye to your casinos and your development. Three tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, explosives grade. Does that ring a bell? It's my nuts in the wringer."

Shiva looked impatiently at the Cartier watch he wore on his left wrist. "You need to leave. I have a massage scheduled in a few minutes. There's a new girl among the disciples-with a nice body for a change. I don't want you interrupting."

Izzy Kline: Lean, gaunt-cheeked, with a scar below his right eye, dimples and a dimpled chin-a ladies' man. Ex-Israeli Army, he'd trained with the Mossad, chosen to leave his adopted country rather than face morals charges, returned to America and been hired as security manager by a controversial religious leader, Bhagwan Shiva, founder of the International Church of Ashram Meditation, Inc.

Strictly business.

Shiva had established his first church west of Miami Lakes, the palmetto country between Okeechobee Road and Opa Locka, edge of the Everglades. This was back before he'd changed his name from Jerry Singh. He'd started with forty-some disciples, mostly dropouts and runaways who'd craved the discipline, and liked wearing robes and growing their own food.

When he'd had cash, he'd bought land. He'd bought a lot of it west of Miami. Cheap swampland.

Eighteen years later, Shiva now had a quarter million followers worldwide, and one hundred twenty Church of Ashram Centers, mostly in the U.S., Great Britain and Europe, though the numbers were declining. In the last five years, his organization had been crippled by lawsuits, IRS investigations and aggressive TV, magazine and newspaper exposÈs.

He'd been described as the "wizard of religion" because of elaborate miracles staged before thousands. He'd been called the "rich man's prophet," and an incarnate "sex guru."

Kline didn't believe Shiva was an incarnate anything; he knew him too well to fall for his holy man act. Izzy was the only person in the organization who spoke frankly to Shiva. As a result, he was the only man Shiva could be open with, behave naturally around-and who also scared him a little.

Izzy knew everything.

Shiva sighed and said, "Okay, okay, so why should we be worried about her two friends on some island? Where'd you say she went?"

Izzy said, "She sent her cousin an e-mail, said she's driving to Sanibel today."

"An e-mail. You have access to her computer? Or did you break into her house?"

Izzy had broken into her house. Several times; twice in the last week. He enjoyed going through her drawers. He'd found a couple of fun items hidden away. But he said, "No. I hacked her password. The one friend she's going to see, I think you've probably heard about. Which's why I'm telling you. A guy named Sighurdhr Tomlinson. Or Sea-guard, I'm not sure how you pronounce it."

"Sighurdhr Tomlinson," Shiva said, considering it, but not giving it his full attention. "The name sounds familiar."

"Remember Miami River, the archaeological site where you tried to build the condo complex? That group of protesters who futzed it? Eco-freaks, all the shitty PR they caused. How many millions'd we lose on that one?"

Shiva was nodding now. "Okay, yes, I know who you mean. He was with the protestors, one of the leaders. I remember one of my advisors telling me-not you-that he was a kook. Like most of them. A heavy drug user. That's the information I got."

Izzy said, "Really? That's all? There's more. You know me, I'm a fanatic when it comes to background checks."

Shiva said, "I don't think I'm interested."

Izzy said, "I think you should be."

"Why? I don't see the point."

"Because what I found out about this guy is kind of interesting. For instance: Fifteen, twenty years ago, he was implicated in a terrorist bombing at a U.S. naval base. Killed a couple of people."

That got Shiva's attention. "Really. A bombing. Hum-m-m-m." Thinking about it, how the information could be used.

"Yeah, but he skated. The feds didn't nail 'im. I'm not sure why yet. I'm still working on that. There had to be a reason."

"But there's a record?"

"Not official, but it's there if you dig deep enough."

"Is there anything for him to find out about Geoff?"

"Maybe. I don't know if the guy was being straight with us or not. It's possible he hid away some papers. Or maybe he had a secret friend. Who knows? What I'm saying is, we're both screwed if his wife figures out what really happened."

Izzy was standing at the bedroom's east window, looking over the tops of coconut palms, out onto the Atlantic. Seeing jade sea bottom beyond the beach, and a border of purple water way out where a couple of oceangoing freighters moved like long slabs of concrete, floating: the Gulf Stream.

Beneath Izzy, parked on the blue tile drive, were two Rolls-Royces: a 1923 Silver Ghost, and a '31 Landaulette, painted racing green. Shiva loved them; collected them. Maybe because he was born upper caste, in India, British-made cars seemed to represent something. Izzy wasn't sure what.

Less than five years ago, Shiva had owned twenty-three Rollses. But he'd been selling them off-Izzy was one of the few who knew about it-plus some property, some businesses, to augment the organization's sagging cash flow.

His church was in trouble, and the guy was desperate. Izzy knew that, too.

Something else Izzy had realized after all these years with Shiva: All religion was bullshit. Religion was nothing more than legend manipulated by carefully staged illusions.

It was his personal water-into-wine theory.

Shiva said, "His wife, the attractive blonde-what's her name?"

"Sally. Yeah, she's a looker."

"Has Sally ever met you? Does she know who you are?"

"No."

"What about Tomlinson?"

"Nope."

"Okay, they're old friends. That's what you said. Sometimes old friends, a man and a woman, they just run off and disappear."

Kline knew what Shiva meant by "disappear." Shiva had paid him bonuses to do it before, and he'd actually kind of enjoyed himself the one time it was a woman. But something about the way Shiva said it now irked him-like it was no big deal; grunt work any idiot could pull off.

Izzy called Shiva by his real name on those occasions when he wanted to underscore the fact that he didn't much give a damn about the man's religious act, or who paid his salary. He used the name now, saying, "Brilliant, Jerry. But she's going to visit two guys, not just one. So maybe what you can do is perform another one of your miracles. Snap your fingers, make all three of them disappear. How's that sound?"

Shiva ignored the sarcasm. "This hippie, even if she does try to get him involved-someone like him? I don't see the problem. So tell me about the second guy."

"He's a marine biologist named Ford. Marion D. Ford. Lives on Sanibel Island at a place called Dinkin's Bay Marina. Same place as Tomlinson. Ford sells marine specimens."

"Marine specimens."

"Um-huh. Like to colleges and labs. For research, that sort of thing."

Shiva waited through a few beats of silence, before he said, "That's it? Your background check didn't turn up anything else -"

There was a polite knock at the door. Shiva paused, checked his watch again. Time for his massage. He said, "Leave now. The women are here."

Kline said, "Exactly my point. With all the data banks and my resources, that's all there was: where Ford lives, the name of his company, where he graduated from college, some research papers. They play in some baseball league. Nothing else.

"The guy's alive, he exists, but never really lived. He's like an empty body walking."

Shiva smiled, then began to laugh, waving Izzy toward the door, "Baseball. A children's game. You're wasting my time for this? If a biologist and some pothead worry you, maybe you've been in the business too long. Get out of here. We'll talk again when I'm through."

Izzy was remembering a maxim he'd learned at the Mossad training complex in the suburbs of Tel Aviv-Beware the man without a past-as he considered saying to Bhagwan Shiva, You really don't get it, do you?

Not that he was concerned about a man he'd never met, or the woman, or anyone else. It was Shiva's attitude that bothered him, the indifference. Like he was really beginning to believe the lie he'd been telling followers for years: I am the truth, and the truth is invincible.

Izzy walked toward the door, thinking, You're not invincible, asshole. And you're not taking me down with you....

--from Everglades by Randy Wayne White, copyright © 2003 Randy Wayne White, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of the Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Meet the Author

Randy Wayne White is the author of seventeen previous Doc Ford novels and four collections of nonfiction. He lives in an old house built on an Indian mound in Pineland, Florida.

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Everglades (Doc Ford Series #10) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
grandma-1 More than 1 year ago
I enjoy the Doc Ford character. The descriptions of places in Florida and the places he travels takes me on a vicarious vacation. He's an honest character with flaws. I will keep on reading Randy Wayne White.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good read like the idea of reading little tidbits about florida and its wildlife incorperated in the story line well written mystery
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Cleans the camp. - cloverwhisper
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where is wheatclaw now?
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Trouble is afoot again for Doc Ford in this tenth adventure for the marine biologist from Dinkin's Bay on Florida's Gulf Coast. Doc's childhood pal and one-time lover Sally Carmel arrives at his stilt house with a tale of a missing husband, presumed dead after a nighttime fall off of a boat while on a fishing trip. But is he really dead, and who is the menacing guy shadowing Sally's every move? The trail leads to the husband's business partner, a crooked religious cult leader who is cooking up some devilish plans to replenish his personal coffers. Bwagwan Shiva has no intention of waiting for the afterlife to reap a heavenly reward, and if murder and mayhem-not to mention major environmental damage to the fragile and unique ecosystem of the Everglades-is necessary, so be it. Doc is facing some personal demons of his own, as depressed and out of shape he confronts the price he is paying for continually camouflaging his essentially predatory nature with a socially acceptable facade. The Everglades, eloquently rendered by Randy Wayne White's vivid descriptions, offer a parallel reflection of the negative consequences of trying to impose man's vision of civilization upon the natural order. Through a maelstrom of impressively complex physical combat, a nighttime encounter with a deadly bull shark, death-defying air boat hijinks, earthquake tremors, high explosives and a volcano, White delivers an increasingly complex portrait of Doc Ford and his hippie pal Tomlinson. But long time fans have come to expect more than just great storytelling, and Everglades does not disappoint, as White peppers his narrative with impressively researched information about Florida's Indian history, the ecology of the Everglades, primitive human brain physiology and wrestling, among many other topics. Read this book and you will know some terrific bars and restaurants to visit on Florida's Gulf Coast; how to make a great rum drink and the special brand of Nicaraguan rum to use; what brand of baseball glove supports questionable business practices in Costa Rica; which boat engine manufacturer is finding favor with fishing guides these days; the legend of the Swamp Ape; and what exactly the witch's soldiers are chanting in The Wizard of Oz. A brilliant and amazing ride right to the last page, Everglades will leave you eagerly awaiting the next encounter with Doc Ford.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For years. as a Floridian, I've been hearing the fuss created by devotees of novelist Randy Wayne White, but had no urgency to read his books. After all, Florida is home to plenty of writers, many of them very good. At least two are surperb in my opinion. So, with my birthday in May, my boyfriend surprised me with an early copy of White's newest tale, EVERGLADES. I expected the book would be an acceptable imitation of Hiassen, MacDonald or even Hemingway. As I turned the final page, I couldn't help but be delighted! Everglades was an unbelievable read. I stand corrected and am now a believer. Mr. White is a terrific stylist and storyteller who writes more powerfully and with a lot more fun than Grisham, Patterson and Clancy (whose books I all enjoy). The ending to Everglades...endings, actually, were exciting. Highly recommended. I'm off to read White's other Doc Ford novels I
harstan More than 1 year ago
Dr. Marion Ford lives in a stilt house on Dinkin¿s Bay on Sanibel Island off the west coast of Florida, which is also home base for his business, supplying marine specimens to schools and research facilities. On the surface, he looks like a nerdy scientist but for years he was a deep cover spy. The guilt and shame he feels for those years is spiraling him into a deep depression, just when a good friend apples to him for help.

Newly windowed Sally Minster comes to Doc Ford for help because someone broke into her apartment and has stalked her since her husband died. Doc finds out that the man who followed her is a private investigator who wants to make sure that Sally¿s husband is really dead. Before he died he became deeply involved with the International Church of Ashram Meditation Inc., run by a con man named Shia who will do anything necessary to get what he wants. When Sally is kidnapped and the man guarding her is found murdered, Doc Ford must go into the heart of the guru¿s empires for answers that will lead him to Sally.

Randy Wayne White is a creative genus who writes stories that are seductively compelling and hauntingly refreshing. The protagonist finally comes to terms with the violence that is a part of him and in doing so is able to help those he cares about as well as appoint himself the avenger to those who need to be taught a lesson. After reading EVERGLADES, one will come to appreciate just how fragile that ecosystem is and find pleasure in the complex and intricate plot.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want your body so dam bad