Randy Wayne White stumbles a bit out of the gate with his twenty-fifth Doc Ford novel, Caribbean Rim.
Leonard Nickelby, a former professor and current director of Florida Division of Historical Resources, hooks up with a former student of his, Lydia Johnson, in an improbable meeting in the Ocala National Forest. Leonard, who is married at the time their affair begins, quickly develops feelings for the much younger Lydia, and a few months later they embark on a treasure hunt together in the Bahamas.
Carl Fitzpatrick, who has been on many treasure hunts of his own, has previously mixed it up with Leonard, who thinks very little of anyone he considers to be an “amateur treasure hunter.” The two butted heads when Leonard impounded Fitzpatrick’s cache of rare Spanish coins, which vanishes along with Leonard and Lydia. Realizing that the duo is most likely working from a list of uncharted wreck sites that he’s compiled over the last decade, Fitz knows Leonard is heading for trouble. Because of his own adventures, he cannot go to the authorities without casting a negative light on himself. So, Fitz instead turns to his old pal, Doc Ford.
Doc agrees to go after them, which is a good thing because Leonard and Lydia end up being captured by Salvadorian drug dealers. But, while trying to help them, Doc inadvertently finds himself in the crosshairs of very dangerous people with connections to a powerful Hollywood type who has a separate agenda, and it’s all downhill from there. . .
Doc, a marine biologist by trade, has somehow morphed into a man who possesses a similar skill set to spies and Tier One operators — which, while somewhat entertaining, makes absolutely no sense. While certainly a step up from last year’s Mangrove Lightning, Randy Wayne White’s latest novel still lacks direction and cohesion. The plot and pacing are both choppy and inconsistent, and though there is a handful of fun, lighthearted moments, there’s not nearly enough of them to make up for the book’s other shortcomings.
Diehard fans of this series may be willing to overlook certain flaws just to follow their favorite characters, but newcomers and fair-weather fans will likely need to turn elsewhere to get their thriller fix.
Author: Randy Wayne White
Series: Doc Ford #25
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 5.0/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck is the editor-in-chief of The Real Book Spy, and one of the thriller genre’s most well-recognized critics. He currently lives in southwest Michigan with his wife and their five children. For more information, make sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook!