From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. At the start of bestseller White's outstanding 17th Doc Ford thriller (after Dead Silence), two low-life ex-cons, King and Perry, are on the lam after killing a family of five in a burglary. They end up in Doc's neck of the woods, or rather his neck of the swamp, in central Florida. Doc; his boat-bum hipster pal, Tomlinson; troubled Indian teen Will Chaser, who played a key role in Dead Silence; and Arlis Futch, a crusty old fisherman, have arrived at a small lake, which they intend to search for Batista's treasure plane, which disappeared in 1958 while flying the ex-dictator's looted booty out of Cuba during the Castro takeover. King and Perry, who are as bad as they come, quickly take control of the others, forcing Doc and friends to continue diving in the lake, after which the pair plan to kill them all. Throw in a giant, mysterious swamp creature with an appetite for cattle, horses, and divers, and you've got a nail-biter that's virtually impossible to put down. Author tour. (Mar.)
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*Starred Review* Florida’s mystery heroes have been having a hard time this year. First, James W. Hall’s Thorn spent most of an entire novel trapped in a dry well (Silencer, 2010), and now, in Randy Wayne White’s latest Doc Ford thriller, the intrepid marine biologist goes underwater for a couple hundred pages. It starts innocently enough, with Ford, his hippie pal Tomlinson, teenager Will Chaser (from Dead Silence, 2009), and cranky old-timer Arlis Futch embarking on a treasure-hunting trip to an isolated lake, on the bottom of which is purported to be a mother lode of gold from Batista’s Cuba. Three problems quickly develop: a sort-of underwater avalanche that leaves all but Ford trapped under tons of limestone (a cave keeps the victims alive as their air supply dwindles); the arrival (on land) of two psycho killers right out of In Cold Blood (one is even named Perry); and, scariest of all, the lurking presence of, yes, a sea monster. Ford eventually surmounts all the obstacles before him, of course, but along the way, we are treated to a wonderful mix of hair-raising horror, grace under pressure, and fascinating natural history. There turns out to be a biologically sound explanation for the presence of the sea monster, but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying for anyone who remembers Creature from the Black Lagoon (as Ford notes, “The universe beneath is alive—relentlessly alive”). It’s no surprise that White’s long-running, always-popular series has broken through to mainstream best-sellerdom; his novels appeal on so many levels: as portraits of a steadily evolving, tough-yet-introspective hero; as eco-friendly investigations of natural Florida; and as muscular, head-banging adventure thrillers. And, now, there are sea monsters, too! --Bill Ott
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