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Twelve Mile Limit (Doc Ford Series #9)

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Overview

It starts out as a fun excursion for four divers off the Florida coast. Two days later only one is found alive-naked atop a light tower in the Gulf of Mexico. What happened during those 48 hours? Doc Ford thinks he's prepared for the truth. He isn't.

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Twelve Mile Limit (Doc Ford Series #9)

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Overview

It starts out as a fun excursion for four divers off the Florida coast. Two days later only one is found alive-naked atop a light tower in the Gulf of Mexico. What happened during those 48 hours? Doc Ford thinks he's prepared for the truth. He isn't.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fans of the Florida Gulf Coast marine biologist Doc Ford, White's swashbuckling Travis McGee-esque hero, will applaud this ninth Ford suspense novel (after Shark River), though the literati will likely complain that White continues to fall just short of his near-mythic forerunner, genius storyteller John D. McDonald. In this latest tale, based on a real-life 1994 incident, a boat of scuba divers sinks at a dive site off of Marco Island. When a woman who works in his lab turns up among the missing, Doc jumps into the investigation (though not before he takes time out for an amiable m nage- -trois with two local sirens). The accident's apparent lone survivor, a sexy redheaded Sarasota attorney who swam four miles to the safety of a beacon buoy, confides to Doc that she saw her three companions taken aboard a foul-smelling shrimp boat. Ex-covert agent Doc calls on highly placed government pals to retrieve photos from a surveillance satellite, and the high-resolution images not only confirm the rescue but identify the boat owners as having a history of running drugs and smuggling illegal aliens. Accompanied by the dazzling survivor, Doc tracks the villains to Cartagena, Colombia, where he mounts an operation to free the divers, whom they suspect are about to be sold into prostitution. While this isn't the strongest of the Doc Ford escapades there's some sloppy plotting and gimmicky narrative twists it's plenty entertaining, and White's ironic touches will have fans shouting "encore." (June 3) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The folks at Dinkin's Bay Marina, who like to think of themselves as a family, are devastated when word reaches them about Janet Mueller. In company with three others, she'd been a guest on a speedboat, scuba-diving off the west coast of Florida, when the boat swamped and went down, leaving Amelia Gardner as the only known survivor. Doc Ford, owner of the Sanibel Biological Supply (Shark River, 2001, etc.), is particularly shaken, since sweet-natured Janet had worked for him. And then things get worse as the mystery of Janet's disappearance deepens. Have three strong, healthy people in highly colored wetsuits and inflated vests vanished without a trace despite an intense, prolonged Coast Guard search? To all sorts of self-proclaimed experts, it doesn't compute, so inevitably, vicious rumors begin circulating: It must have been an insurance scam, a drug deal gone bad, or simply cold-blooded multiple murder. By the time a distraught Amelia Gardner comes to Sanibel Island looking for Doc, almost no one believes she isn't guilty of something-except of course for Doc, who over the span of nine novels has never met a long-legged lady in distress he could resist. Amelia begs for help; he promises to give it; they have excellent sex, then depart for Cartagena, Colombia, where there's good news and bad. A promising idea undermined by helter-skelter subplots and a sometimes hectoring style whenever White launches into his increasingly inescapable soapbox digressions. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425190739
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/3/2003
  • Series: Doc Ford Series , #9
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 147,967
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.78 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Randy Wayne White

Night Moves, Chasing Midnight, Night Vision, and Deep Shadow and the Hannah Smith novel, Gone, the first in a new series. He is also the author of a number of nonfiction collections and of a cookbook. A onetime veteran fishing guide, he lives in an old house built on an Indian mound and spends much of his free time windsurfing, playing baseball, and hanging out at Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on Sanibel Island, Florida.

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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Read an Excerpt

Twelve Mile Limit

Randy Wayne White

Copyright ã 2002 by Randy Wayne White

Part One

Prologue

On Sunday, November 4, a Coast Guard helicopter was operating fifty-two nautical miles off Marco Island on the west coast of Florida, when a crewman spotted a naked woman on the highest platform of a 160-foot navigational tower.

In the crew chief’s report, the woman was described as a “very healthy and fit” redhead. The woman was waving what turned out to be a wet suit. She was trying to attract the helicopter crew’s attention.

The helicopter, a Jayhawk H-60, was in the area searching for a twenty-five-foot pleasure boat that had been reported overdue nearly two days earlier. According to the report, the motor vessel, Seminole Wind, had left Marco on Friday morning with a party of one man, three women. According to relatives, the foursome had planned to spend the day offshore, fishing and SCUBA diving, but did not return Friday afternoon as expected. The Coast Guard had been searching for the Seminole Wind since Friday night. The crew of the Jayhawk was looking for a disabled boat, not a naked woman waving a wet suit from a light tower.

The helicopter flew east past the tower, banked south, then hovered beside the platform. One of the crew signaled the woman with a thumbs-up. It was a question. The woman signaled a thumbs-up in return—she was okay. Then the woman wiggled into her wet suit, climbed down to a lower platform, and dived into the water. The crew of the Jayhawk dropped a basket seat and winched her aboard.

It was 9:54 a.m.

The woman they rescued was thirty-six-year-old Amelia Gardner of St. Petersburg, a passenger on the vessel that had been reported overdue, the Seminole Wind.

According to the Coast Guard report, the woman was given a mug of coffee from a Thermos and asked what happened. She replied that she’d been a guest on a boat that sank. When the crew chief asked where the boat had sunk, Gardner replied, “Oh dear, God! You mean you haven’t found them?”

She was referring to the two women and one man who’d been aboard with her: the boat’s owner, Michael Sanford, age thirty-five, of Siesta Key; Grace Walker, twenty-nine, a Sarasota realtor; and Janet Mueller, thirty-three, who lived on a houseboat at Jensen’s Marina on Captiva Island and worked part-time for Sanibel Biological Supply, a business owned by a man named Marion Ford.

A Coast Guard crewman shook his head and told the distraught woman, “Nope. We’ve had crews searching for thirty-six hours straight and no one’s seen a thing.”

Gardner told the crew that Sanford’s boat had swamped and capsized at around 3 p.m. Friday while anchored over the Baja California, a wreck they’d been diving. She said the four of them had held on to the anchor line until the boat finally sank at around 7 p.m. and they were set adrift. By then, it was dark, waves had gotten bigger, the wind stronger, and she was gradually swept away from the others in rough seas. Because she had no other options, Gardner began swimming toward the light tower, which she’d been told was approximately four miles away.

“I never thought I was going to make it,” she told the crew chief. “I was sure I was going to die.”

She said that it was a little after 11 p.m., according to her dive watch, when she finally reached the tower, climbed up the service ladder, and collapsed, exhausted, on the lower platform. She’d been on the tower since 11 p.m. Friday—thirty-five hours—and she told them she was very thirsty. She was sunburned, she had barnacle cuts on her hands and legs, and she appeared to be suffering from exposure.

When Gardner was offered the option of being flown to a hospital or remaining on station, she replied that she wanted the helicopter to continue searching. She told crewmen that all three of her companions were wearing wet suits and inflated BCD vests, buoyancy compensator devices. “We’ll find them, we’ve got to find them,” she said, and offered to help the crew get Loran—an electronic navigational system that aids mariners in determining positions at sea—coordinates for the California wreck from her former dive instructor, who lived aboard a trawler at Burnt Store Marina near Punta Gorda.

The crew chief told Gardner that they already had the coordinates for the wreck.

The helicopter crew, with Gardner aboard, searched for two more hours but found nothing—nor did what, by now, was an even bigger search group that included a second H-60 helicopter, a C-130 fixed wing aircraft, the Coast Guard’s eighty-two-foot cutter Point Swift, and a forty-one-foot utility cruiser. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and other volunteers were also providing boats and crew, but the smaller vessels could not search offshore because the wind was now blowing twenty knots out of the east-northeast.

Hopes of recovering the three missing divers remained high, however. They were all young, all in good shape, and they were all wearing wet suits and inflated vests.

As one of the Coast Guard staff assured Gardner, “Don’t worry, we’re the very best in the world at finding people lost at sea.”

Which is true.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 29 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2002

    THE BEST FORD EVER

    I've just finished TWELVE MILE LIMIT and it is, without a doubt one of the best thrillers I've read this decade, probably in my life. I loved the characters, the action's nonstop, and Randy Wayne White describes the sea and South American rain forest as well or better than anyone ever has. He has pushed the envelope of genre fiction, elevating it, at times, to literature. (I could have used a little less info about weaponry, and a few less digressions, but I'm quibbling.) The book is based on a true story. Mr. White has done his research, and it shows. On a moonless might in November, 1994, a 26-foot boat sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, setting four SCUBA divers adrift, all wearing wetsuits and inflated vests. Only one survived; the fate of the other three remains a mystery. White fictionalizes this story, yet the drama still holds, in the best Doc Ford novel yet. One of the missing is Doc's buddy, Janet Mueller, and his marina community mobilizes to search for the missing divers with the help of the lone survivor, Amelia Gardner. Doc discovers that Amelia's companions might have lived through their nightmare at sea, and he and Amelia follow the trail to Colombia. The conclusion left me delighted, satisfied, teary-eyed and exhausted. It is the longest of the Ford novels, but I finished it in all-day stretch, and didn't get to bed until 4 a.m. Even then I couldn't sleep. Whew. What a read! More Ford, please.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    B

    H

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2002

    Don't start this book near bedtime!

    Apparently Randy Wayne White is incapable of writing a bad book, richly demonstrated by the arrival of Twelve Mile Limit. White is a licensed boat captain with thirteen years experience as a fishing guide, and it shows; only someone with an intimate knowledge and love of the water could have penned this compelling story. Based on a true event, Twelve Mile Limit opens with the dramatic rescue by helicopter of Amelia Gardener, the only known survivor of a disastrous diving expedition. Her three companions from the ill-fated excursion to explore an offshore diving wreck disappear without a trace when their boat sinks, despite the fact that all of them were wearing inflated life vests over wet suits. Among the missing is Janet Mueller, Doc Ford's friend who assists him with his marine specimens business. The close-knit Dinkin's Bay Marina family joins the Coast Guard in an exhaustive, ultimately futile search. When dark rumors begin to circulate, Doc agrees to assist Amelia in her efforts to clear her missing friends' names. Using resources from his shadowy, clandestine past as a secret government operative, Ford uncovers a chilling trail which leads him into a harrowing rescue attempt in the dangerous jungles of Colombia. White's trademark use of brilliant descriptions of the waters off south Florida, and the vivid picture he creates of Colombia reflect his personal passion for these places. This book stands alone as a powerful adventure, as the reader experiences the chilling isolation of being lost and adrift in a windswept sea on a black, moonless night, and a terror-ridden descent into the hellish Colombian jungles infested with unimaginable dangers. But readers who have followed Doc Ford's adventures (this is the ninth in this popular series) are rewarded with a deepening knowledge of the searing past which haunts Doc. A wonderful summer read-or any time of the year-this book should come attached with a warning notice of the powerfully addictive effects of White's writing. Read one, and you will begin frantically searching out all of his other titles. It's worth it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2012

    Fast moving with interesting characters.

    This is my third Doc Ford book and I enjoyed it. It was fast moving and had some very interesting characters. I recommend it!

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  • Posted August 28, 2012

    This is my third reading of the Doc Ford series. I am hooked, n

    This is my third reading of the Doc Ford series. I am hooked, now. I
    just moved to SW Florida and I am learning the area via the Randy Wayne
    White's novels. Not only entertaining, but educational. A good read.

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  • Posted May 1, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    I think this was one of his best John

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2002

    A book you can 't put down!

    Started reading the book and finished it in two days. It is a book that hold your attention and you want to find out what is going to happen next. Great Book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2002

    fantastic work of suspense

    Dr. Marion Ford lives and works on Sanibel Island near Dinkin¿s Bay. His business Sanibel Biological Supply provides fresh or preserved specimens to schools and labs nationwide. His assistant and close friend Janet Mueller is reported lost at sea when their diving boat capsizes so it only natural that Doc and the people who live on or near the bay launch a full scale search that is coordinated with the Coast Guard. <P>The Coast Guard picked up only one of the four people who got separated from the group the night of the dive. After she recovers, she comes to Dinkin¿s Bay to tell her version of the events that happened that night. She informs Doc that she saw a boat that stopped as if it was picking up survivors. Tapping his resources in the intelligence community, Doc finds proof positive that a ship operating on the dark side of the law picked up Janet and a companion. Now the hunt is on and Doc won¿t rest until he finds them and brings them home. <P>Randy Wayne White has written a fantastic work of suspense. The hero has previously, been portrayed as an enigma but in TWELVE MILE LIMIT the audience learns a bit more about Doc¿s deep and murky past. Readers will come to understand why the foot soldiers in the intelligence community have a different view of humanity than the rest of the world and act accordingly. With the humanization of his hero, Mr. White delivers a superior book, one that those who have followed this absorbing series will thoroughly enjoy. <P>Harriet Klausner

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