cover image North of Havana

North of Havana

Randy Wayne White. Putnam Publishing Group, $22.95 (241pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14242-0

Following the south Florida eco-suspense of Captiva (1996), White continues to throw plausability happily, energetically, to the winds. His swashbuckling modern-day Thoreau, narrator Doc Ford, evades death and keeps an appointment with destiny when he is revisited by the love of his life, Pilar Balserio, the beautiful ruling sovereign of the mythical banana republic of Masagua (first seen in Sanibel Flats). Busily engaged in the serious business of diverting seductive Dewey, a sexually ambivalent golf pro, from the emotional trauma of a jilting by her lesbian lover, Doc is rudely interrupted by a phone call from his sidekick, the aging flower child Tomlinson, whose sailboat has just been impounded in Castro's Havana. Armed with $10,000 in cash and accompanied by Dewey, who shows signs of responding to his sexual therapy, Doc heads for Cuba. There, imperiled by his secret history as a covert agent once sent on an anti-Castro mission, Doc finds Tomlinson missing. Soon, Dewey is kidnapped in a wild plot involving Tomlinson's race against Castro and Santeria priests to find the mythical treasure of Columbus's coffin. The chaos resolves in a mission that's as romantic as it is impossible. Rich in personality and atmosphere, this latest Doc Ford adventure features breakneck pacing and muscular prose filled with banter and graveyard whistling. White never blushes at an outrageous plot turn, but in his capable hands, neither will his readers. (Apr.)