Putnam, June 2003, 21.95, 320 pp.
Dr. Marion Ford lives in a stilt house on Dinkin's Bay on Sanibel Island off the west coast of Florida, which is also home base for his business, supplying marine specimens to schools and research facilities. On the surface, he looks like a nerdy scientist but for years he was a deep cover spy. The guilt and shame he feels for those years is spiraling him into a deep depression, just when a good friend apples to him for help.
Newly windowed Sally Minster comes to Doc Ford for help because someone broke into her apartment and has stalked her since her husband died. Doc finds out that the man who followed her is a private investigator who wants to make sure that Sally's husband is really dead. Before he died he became deeply involved with the International Church of Ashram Meditation Inc., run by a con man named Shia who will do anything necessary to get what he wants. When Sally is kidnapped and the man guarding her is found murdered, Doc Ford must go into the heart of the guru's empires for answers that will lead him to Sally.
Randy Wayne White is a creative genus who writes stories that are seductively compelling and hauntingly refreshing. The protagonist finally comes to terms with the violence that is a part of him and in doing so is able to help those he cares about as well as appoint himself the avenger to those who need to be taught a lesson. After reading EVERGLADES, one will come to appreciate just how fragile that ecosystem is and find pleasure in the complex and intricate plot.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner