RANDY WAYNE WHITE – Captiva. Doc Ford #4. Putnam, hardcover, 1996. Berkley, paperback, 1997.

   I read one of the earlier in this series, the second or third, and I didn’t like it nearly as much as most people seemed to. It was okay, but I didn’t see anything at all exceptional about it. Maybe it was my aversion to Florida stories …

   Doc Ford, former government agent, turned marine biologist, is located in the middle of a mess. A ban on net-fishing has been passed by the state government, and partisans on both sides are in an ugly mood. Doc has friends in both camps and tries to keep a low profile, but when a net-fisherman is killed while attempting to do damage with a bomb (which he did, destroying two boats), matters turn really ugly. Doc tries to calm the waters, but there will be more violence and more death before they still.

   The publicity material includes the inevitable comparison to John D. MacDonald, which is of course ridiculous; but maybe not quite as ridiculous as it usually is. White does have a real feel for working-class Florida fishing country, and Doc Ford is an intriguing and not too overdone knight errant. The supporting characters are well-drawn and believable, as well.

   There’s not an overabundance of cowboy action, and what there is doesn’t seem out of place. All told, I didn’t find anything to dislike about this, and considerable to enjoy  Maybe I misjudged old Randy White, you think?

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #25, May 1996.