Author: Randy Wayne White

Publisher: Putnam and Sons
ISBN: 978-0-399-57668-3

Randy Wayne White, author of Mangrove Lightning has penned numerous books. (inside cover, 2017) This novel is a Doc Ford main character novel which Mr. White has used in twenty four prior novels with a cross over into his Hannah Smith novel series. This novel is loosely based on some history of Florida and the Bahamas during prohibition.

There is a historical blurb in the beginning of this novel that makes reference to an old newspaper article that described the smuggling of Chinese people and liquor into Florida from the Bahamas during prohibition, as well as, the unsolved mystery of a missing Deputy. A story picked up by the Fort Myers Press highlights the Marco Island War in 1925 which took place between a dreadfully wealthy man by the name of Collier, who happens to be the same man the County is named after today, and the homesteaders living there at that time.

Doc Ford is a marine biologist who always seems to find himself in the middle of some wild adventure. This tale begins with a call from Doc Ford’s friend, Tomlinson, an older hippy telling Doc Ford about a Chino Hole where lore says that perhaps the unsolved mystery of the missing Deputy and his family might be found. Ford asks if Tootsie Barlow, a retired fishing guide, told Tomlinson this tall tale. Tomlinson confirms this and tells Ford that the Barlow family was somehow involved.

Ford is in the Bahamas, but leads Tomlinson to believe he is in Fort Lauderdale instead. He has gotten himself into a sticky wicket by trying to overhear a conversation he ought not be listening to. He meets a lovely, sexy woman who requires his thoughtful saving. Her name is Ms. Gillian Cobourg. They end up being followed, shot at, and narrowly escape. Doc and she have some romantic exchanges that make him wonder if she could end up as more than a woman he simply met on his way to wherever. However, doc Ford is still hung up on Hannah Smith, his ex-lover so things do not simply unfurl as perhaps they might otherwise.

As Doc Ford manages to get back into the USA unscathed save for a wounded Ms. Cobourg due to a wrangle with a sea urchin. When he does get her to safety he hooks up with Tomlinson at the Chino hole where surprises abound and not of the good variety. It seems Tootsie’s niece has gone missing. They find out this is not all that unusual and therefore do not place a lot of emphasis on this until a series of bad situations require them to reboot. The property surrounding Chino Hole is stranger than strange. There are old boxcars stacked in the yard and a big railway station where a huge ugly woman resides supposedly alone. Doc and Tomlinson snoop around and find one weird thing after another. Too many, in fact, to simply dismiss. Eventually, they locate the missing niece, but it is going to be uber tricky to set her free. They embark upon a plan that does not go off exactly as planned, but seems to achieve the desired result, to free the niece.

There are many twists and turns to this complex plot. The appearance of Hannah Smith complicates things. Will they succeed? What will happen next? Do they solve the mystery of Chino Hole and the missing Deputy? Read it and see. I loved it and I believe you will too!