Captiva

Randy Wayne White, Author
Randy Wayne White, Author Putnam Adult $21.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-399-14140-9
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Mass Market Paperbound - 336 pages - 978-0-425-15854-8
Hardcover - 454 pages - 978-0-7862-0792-3
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White, who has always had the talent, moves firmly into the major leagues with his latest Doc Ford story (after Sanibel Flats) and its lavish panorama of cross-cultural and environmental issues played out passionately in south Florida. The Florida Keys uneasily contain rich pleasure seekers and subsistence-level fisherman; someplace in the turbulent middle, Doc, a biologist, and his existentialist buddy Tomlinson hang out. As a ban on net fishing engenders increasing debate, a man is blown apart when an explosion demolishes a jetty. The sultry voodoo-practicing widow soon has Doc and Tomlinson hopelessly spellbound; her host of admirers includes others with drug and land-development interests. By this point, the sweep of White's prose and the earnest intensity he brings to the ecological debate will likely blind readers to a story line with holes large enough for marlin to swim through. Tomlinson is fascinated by the socioeconomics of a small, insular key with nothing but fishing to support it, while Doc is more intrigued by the herbs the widow places in the hot tea they sip prior to bouts of strenuous lovemaking. The conclusion embraces some sinister business with drug smuggling and a minor miracle of modern medicine. While it isn't quite clear how White gets to drug cartels from the charred remains of a lazy brain-fried doper who liked hitting attractive, oversexed women, the whole weird trip, fueled by the author's thoroughly convincing re-creation of his chosen and much-loved world, is a blast. (Apr.)
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