Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"Dead Silence" By Randy Wayne White

"Dead Silence" By Randy Wayne White

Review By Randy Wayne White
Miami Herald

It's a long way, literally and figuratively, from the funky fictional marina at Dinkin's Bay on Florida's southwest coast to the Hamptons of Long Island, but these two disparate settings form the backdrop for the latest -- and extremely engaging -- thriller from Randy Wayne White.

The book, of course, features the complex and enigmatic Doc Ford. For the uninitiated, the un-hip and the uninformed, Dr. Marion Ford is a marine biologist with a dark and secret past. Essentially he was a black-ops assassin, and that past -- as it has done in each of White's 15 previous Doc Ford novels -- threatens to come back to bite him in Dead Silence.

The story opens with Ford dispatching an ex-NFL player who has murdered a friend of Ford's. Doc swims out to the man's anchored boat, then bodily tows him out into the Gulf and dumps him. Cut to the Explorer's Club, where Ford is meeting up with another ex-clandestine agent with the aim of getting back into the business and -- not coincidentally -- to meet Sen. Barbara Hayes-Sorrento. While waiting, Ford witnesses her attempted kidnapping from a taxi out on the street. He intervenes, saving her with an axe he plucks from the hallowed club's walls (once used by Edmund Hillary) but the kidnappers escape with the senator's passenger, a teenage Native American who won a trip to New York in an essay contest.

Complicated enough already, but of course, the plot thickens quickly. The senator, a friend and potential paramour, heads a committee looking into an extraordinary cache of memorabilia, documents and treasure compiled by the recently expired Fidel Castro, and the early conjecture is that the kidnappers are Castro loyalists intent on ransoming for the warehouse full of Castro's stuff.

The hitch is they may have gotten more than they bargained for by taking the kid, Will Chaser, who not only seduced, then blackmailed his Minnesota teacher into writing the winning essay, but is one resourceful, bad-ass little dude.

Ford gets the go-ahead from the senator, the FBI, and his old black-ops boss, and after a trip back to Florida to arm himself and pick up his old friend Tomlinson, a clairvoyant, hippy, Zen-master doper, he tracks the bad guys to a horse farm in the Hamptons, which just happens to be right in Tomlinson's old neighborhood.

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