Be­tween the Lines

Dig­ging for Trou­ble

RSWLiving - - Department­s - BY DOUG GAL­LO­GLY Doug Gal­lo­gly lives with his wife, Jackie, in Fort My­ers.

How can a sim­ple re­quest for help find­ing ar­ti­facts stolen decades ago turn into a fight for sur­vival? When Doc Ford is in­volved, of course! In Bone Deep, by Randy Wayne White ($ 26.95, G. P. Put­nam’s Sons), Ford faces ad­ver­saries, which in­clude a mur­der­ous, brain­dam­aged biker with a me­chan­i­cal hand and a grumpy old ele­phant, in his quest to lo­cate two In­dian ar­ti­facts.

The 21st Doc Ford novel in­tro­duces Dun­can Falls­down, a man from Mon­tana with an In­dian her­itage and a prison record. His dy­ing aunt’s last wish is for these ar­ti­facts, or “lit­tle people” as her tribe calls them, to be re­turned. Ford can’t re­sist the chal­lenge, and to­gether with Falls­down and Ford’s hip­pie friend Tom­lin­son, whose guru shtick hides a cun­ning mind, the trio sets off on the quest. When he gains pos­ses­sion of a duf­fel bag full of stolen items, in­clud­ing a carv­ing that could be one of the “lit­tle people,” Ford be­comes a tar­get. But who is be­hind the threats he’s re­ceiv­ing?

As the dan­ger grows, Ford presses on in his usual fash­ion, which means he makes it up as he goes along. Even the un­cer­tain sta­tus of his re­la­tion­ship with fish­ing guide Han­nah Smith, who is grow­ing tired of his se­crets, isn’t enough to turn him away from his search.

Ford en­lists the help of sev­eral ex­pe­ri­enced bone hunters, in an at­tempt to find the col­lec­tor who has the other ar­ti­fact. The pos­si­bil­ity that one or more of these hunters may also work for his ad­ver­sary has not es­caped his at­ten­tion, but he is will­ing to ac­cept the risk to reach his goal. The fi­nal show­down, which in­volves the grouchy ele­phant, is a bat­tle of wits that proves once again that Doc Ford is a man you should never un­der­es­ti­mate.

Bone Deep ex­em­pli­fies the value of re­search in writ­ing, as White fills his plot with such depth of fact that you find yourself be­liev­ing the story could be real. The word pic­ture he paints al­lows read­ers to im­merse them­selves in the tale, sur­fac­ing at the end to won­der where the hours went. White is a mas­ter at this, which ex­plains why his loyal read­ers ea­gerly an­tic­i­pate each new book.

White is as much a part of South­west Florida’s land­scape as the land­scape is a part of his best­selling books. His de­tailed de­scrip­tions of the Gulf Coast’s en­vi­ron­ment show his love for the area, while pro­vid­ing a real- life back­drop for his nov­els. His knowl­edge of the wa­ters that sur­round us is gleaned from more than 12 years spent as a light tackle fish­ing guide here on Sani­bel Is­land in the 1970s and 80s, and he skill­fully weaves it into his sto­ries. Bone Deep is his 21st Doc Ford novel, which is sig­nif­i­cant to White be­cause of the 21 Travis McGee nov­els writ­ten by John D. MacDon­ald, who he has al­ways ad­mired.

Hav­ing reached that mile­stone, how­ever, he has no plans to end this hugely pop­u­lar se­ries any­time soon. He’s cur­rently work­ing on the third book fea­tur­ing Han­nah Smith, who also plays an in­creas­ing role in the Doc Ford se­ries, and her re­la­tion­ship with Ford, which will con­tinue to evolve in up­com­ing books.

White con­sid­ers re­search to be a sig­nif­i­cant part of writ­ing and says he put ex­tra ef­fort into his re­search for Bone Deep, in­clud­ing a tour of Mo­saic, a Florida com­pany that’s con­sid­ered one of the world’s leading phos­phate pro­duc­ers. What he learned dur­ing the tour added depth to his story and pro­vided a lo­ca­tion for the novel’s Bone Val­ley. When asked about the “lit­tle people” fea­tured in the book, White says they are ac­tu­ally real, and he played a part in re­turn­ing them to their right­ful own­ers af­ter re­ceiv­ing a re­quest for help from a man named Dean Falls­down. ( Does that name sound fa­mil­iar?) This au­thor ac­tu­ally lives his work.

Watch for an in- depth in­ter­view with White later this year in TOTI Me­dia pub­li­ca­tions to learn more about the pas­sions that drive this tal­ented writer.


Au­thor Randy Wayne White ( right) poses for a photo with Doug Gal­lo­gly ( left) af­ter his TOTI Me­dia in­ter­view.

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