cover image The Man Who Invented Florida

The Man Who Invented Florida

Randy Wayne White. St. Martin's Press, $20.95 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-312-09866-7

In the third Doc Ford adventure, White again seamlessly splices an offbeat west coast of Florida locale with even more offbeat inhabitants. Principal among them is Doc Ford, who operates a small biological-supply business from a lab in his stilt-supported house. Lately, Doc has tried to control his telescope viewing of a tanned, red-haired woman who skinny-dips off an offshore sailboat and to limit his beer intake to four a day. While trying to be patient with his hippie pal Thomlinson, who drops by to expound on many topics, Doc reluctantly gets involved with his Uncle Tucker, who lives up the coast in Mango. Tuck has discovered a well of healing water on his land that he claims is responsible for his old gelded horse's newly grown testicles. Smuggled into a local rest home, the water has dramatically revived the moribund sex life of his Native American buddy Joseph Egret. Tuck's trouble is his somewhat uncertain ownership of the land. While he importunes Doc for help, the local news focuses on the disappearance into the mangrove swamps of two government investigators and a much loathed TV fisherman. Like fellow Floridian Carl Hiaasen, White ( The Heat Islands ) is adept at weaving ecological concerns into an oddball narrative with no loss of steam. The fate of the three missing men, even by bizarre Florida crime fiction standards, is inspired. (Dec.)