White and Dorsey De­liver

New mys­ter­ies by two of Florida’s finest

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For the 25th time, at the rate of al­most (but not quite) one per year, Doc Ford has jumped into yet an­other ad­ven­ture. The lat­est by Randy Wayne White, pub­lished in March, is Caribbean Rim, and takes our hero to the Ba­hamas—pri­mar­ily An­dros and Cat Is­land—where Doc is in pur­suit of a miss­ing bu­reau­crat and his much younger love in­ter­est, who them­selves are in pur­suit of hid­den trea­sure. They meet many bad guys along the way, also in pur­suit of hid­den trea­sure and will­ing to kill for it. As is the case with most of White’s nov­els, he weaves in enough lo­cal his­tory and ecol­ogy to keep it in­ter­est­ing. Diehard White fans will en­joy this book as al­ways. Doc Ford and his good buddy Tom­lin­son, an amus­ing lat­ter-day hip­pie, are ap­peal­ing char­ac­ters and can be en­ter­tain­ing tell­ers of tales. It’s cer­tainly one way to spend an af­ter­noon on the beach be­tween sips of your rum punch. Then there’s Tim Dorsey, who brings Florida’s ab­so­lutely nut­ti­est char­ac­ters to the page and in­volves them in the wack­i­est of mys­ter­ies. His lat­est is The Pope of Palm Beach, which takes Serge, Dorsey’s clue­less but crazy-smart hero, on a lit­er­ary tour of South Florida, which of course leads to con­sid­er­able trou­ble. Serge’s tour takes him in search of au­thor Ken­neth Reese, who has been in hid­ing for decades, afraid for his life be­cause he was a wit­ness to the mur­der of his friend and men­tor, Darby, aka the Pope of Palm Beach. “When I read this,” Darby says early in the story to Kenny, who is try­ing to write his first book, “I feel like I’m read­ing writ­ing. Just have a con­ver­sa­tion with the reader.” It’s ad­vice Dorsey has heeded well over the years. His books are a con­ver­sa­tion—ad­mit­tedly a com­pletely crazy con­ver­sa­tion—with his avid read­ers. Dorsey un­doubt­edly draws upon his own ex­pe­ri­ence as a Florida writer in de­tail­ing the book tour that leads up to the story’s ex­cit­ing fin­ish. And he gives a friendly wink to his buddy Randy Wayne White when Serge adds to the graf­fiti in the bath­room of a Del­ray Beach book­store: “Re­mem­ber your novel Twelve Mile Limit? Should have been Twelve Word Limit.” (White wrote Twelve Mile Limit in 2002.) “Why read a book?” asks Darby. “If you read books, you’d un­der­stand that ques­tion is like ‘Why breathe?’” Read­ing Tim Dorsey is a crazy plea­sure.

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