White and Dorsey Deliver
New mysteries by two of Florida’s finest
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.