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.
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