Between the Lines
Digging for Trouble
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.