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The Mangrove Coast
Randy Wayne White
Randy White's mysteries are tailor-made for fans who've exhausted the novels of the late John D. MacDonald. White's series hero, Doc Ford, a marine biologist whose résumé includes a Vietnam-era stint with the Special Forces, is a somewhat cynical philosopher whose toughness masks a tender heart; he's a worthy successor to Travis McGee. In this fast-paced, well-written thriller, a nearly forgotten promise to a long-dead comrade gets Doc involved in a daughter's search for her mother. Gail Richardson's house is empty, and so are her bank accounts. Her daughter Amanda is sure that Gail's being held against her will by her would-be protector, Jackie Merlot, a mysterious man whose connections reach deep into Central and South America. The trail leads from Florida to Colombia and then to Panama, site of a private, heavily guarded retreat catering to the perverse tastes of the wealthy and powerful. Getting in takes all Doc's skill and cunning. Getting out is another matter entirely, as he learns with the help of a few of Bobby Richardson's old Vietnam buddies who turn up in the proverbial nick of time. The denouement is full of surprises, including one that even the most discerning reader won't see coming. The writing is swift, deft, and full of the crunchy nuggets of world-weary wisdom that admirers of the MacDonald genre loved and that White's growing number of devoted readers have come to expect. --Jane Adams
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