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White churns out another title in the Doc Ford series, this one alternating between compelling action sequences and pointless digressions. At the start of the novel, Marion Ford has settled into the life of a gentleman marine biologist on Florida's Gulf coast, leaving behind his past as an assassin and spy. All this is upended when a pyromaniacal carnival freak kidnaps Ford's son, Lake. The boy's mother, Central American beauty Pilar, tries to overcome their estrangement and turns to Ford for help in rescuing the boy. Seduced by his ex-lover just long enough to be caught in a compromising situation by his current girlfriend, Dewey, Ford is distracted by the sight of Dewey's car as she storms away: "She'd sold her 'Vette and bought a new two-seater Lexus. I can never remember the model. The roadster showed impressive stability as she spun it around in the parking lot." Soon after, Ford finds himself in real trouble-and spouts more extraneous commentary. On the way to saving his son, he reflects on the fauna of Florida and Central America, skin transplants, electroshock therapy, port security and the winter residence of choice for circus people. These might have made great ingredients for another whimsical Carl Hiaasen/Elmore Leonardesque madcap novel, but White's meandering prose isn't tight enough to tie them into a convincing whole.
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*Starred Review* Now in its eleventh episode, White's Doc Ford series, starring Sanibel Island marine biologist and veteran special-ops agent Doc Ford, can always be counted on for an entertaining mix of character interplay and straight-ahead action adventure. This time the dial shifts a bit toward the character side of the scale, as Ford revisits various people and issues from his not-quite-past life as a covert operative. The catalyst for all this stock-taking is the kidnapping of the son Ford only recently learned he had and the resurfacing of Pilar, the boy's mother and the great love of Ford's life. The kidnapping plot, in which Ford, with the help of hippie pal Tomlinson, must rescue his son from a serious psycho who likes to burn people, keeps the suspense churning, but the real focus here--for longtime series followers, at least--is on what this latest crisis means to Ford's life with the people he cares about: his son, girlfriend Dewey, the troubled Pilar, and especially Tomlinson, who has his own dark past. As always in White's work, the various bodies of water that surround and intersect Florida take on the multidimensional qualities of fully developed characters, adding not only atmosphere but also context to Ford's ongoing struggle to achieve in his human relationships the sense of equilibrium he has found in the natural world. He's not there yet, but for the reader at least, that's good news: this story is a long way from over. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Doc Ford is usually interesting and fun to follow. This time he seems to have left his brain at home. Great bad guy, but no conclusion. Read morePublished on July 4 2004 by John Bowes
RWW keeps the bar set high. Doc is getting more sensitive with age but he appears to be growing in a good direction. Read morePublished on June 23 2004 by Gerald Layher
The title says it all,Tampa Burn is a burning thriller filled with excitement. The book will promise to keep you on the edge of your chair. Read morePublished on May 27 2004 by L. Hobson
My copy of Randy Wayne White's new novel "Tampa Burn" was delivered to my boat two days ago, and I burned through it in two late nights. Read morePublished on May 26 2004 by Jenny Blickman
My copy of Randy Wayne White's new novel "Tampa Burn" was delivered to my boat two days ago, and I burned through it in two late nights. Read morePublished on May 26 2004 by Tom Arnold