White, Randy Wayne 1950-
White, Randy Wayne 1950-
Born June 9, 1950, in Ashland, OH; married, February, 1972; wife's name Debra Jane; children: Lee, Rogan. Hobbies and other interests: Roy Hobbs Men's Baseball, surfing.
Home—Pineland, FL. Office—P.O. Box 486, Pineland, FL 33945. E-mail—[email protected]
Boat captain and fishing guide, Sanibel, FL, 1977-90; writer, 1989—.
"DOC FORD" ECO-ADVENTURE MYSTERIES
Sanibel Flats, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1990.
The Heat Islands, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1992.
The Man Who Invented Florida, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.
Captiva, Putnam (New York, NY), 1996.
North of Havana, Putnam (New York, NY), 1997.
The Mangrove Coast, Putnam (New York, NY), 1998.
Ten Thousand Islands, Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.
Shark River, Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.
Twelve Mile Limit, Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.
Everglades, Putnam (New York, NY), 2003.
Tampa Burn, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.
Dead of Night, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2005.
Dark Light, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2006.
Hunter's Moon, Putnam (New York, NY), 2007.
Batfishing in the Rainforest, Lyons Press (New York, NY), 1991, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1992.
The Sharks of Lake Nicaragua: True Tales of Adventure, Travel, and Fishing, Lyons Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Last Flight Out: True Tales of Adventure, Travel, and Fishing, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2002.
An American Traveler: True Tales of Adventure, Travel, and Sport, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2003.
Randy Wayne White's Gulf Coast Cookbook: With Memories and Photos of Sanibel Island, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2006.
Columnist for Outside, 1989-94, and Men's Health. Contributor to Condé Nast Traveler, Premier, New York Times, Playboy, National Wildlife, and Reader's Digest.
Randy Wayne White is a fiction writer and journalist based in southwestern Florida, and his concerns in novels and nonfiction alike are ecology, adventure, and the pursuit of unconventional activities. As a writer for Outside magazine he has gone shark-hunting in a landlocked lake and gone to flight school for fighter planes, covered the America's Cup races in Australia and reported from Sumatra, Singapore, Central America, and Vietnam, to name a few locales. As a fiction writer he has created a series sleuth named Doc Ford, an ex-CIA spook turned wildlife biologist who cannot seem to keep clear of trouble. A PublishersWeekly reviewer wrote: "Tense action scenes, skillful character development and an unerring eye for local flora and fauna make White a match for any Florida storyteller."
Doc Ford made his debut in White's first novel, Sanibel Flats. In that story, Doc finds his idyllic life on a secluded island disrupted by abduction and revolution in Central America. The well-received novel set the tone for subsequent Ford series titles: generally Ford is approached by an old friend who needs detective help, or a grieving parent, or he becomes incensed by an act of violence or eco-terrorism and seeks revenge. According to Bill Ott in Booklist, White's novels feature "straight-ahead, leather-tough realism" akin to John D. MacDonald's "Travis McGee" series. The books also take issue with the exploitation of the environment, a theme common to Florida writers of all types. One Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that the "real star" of White's novels "is the seascape of Florida, something Ford—and White—know intimately." Ott, in a Booklist piece on Shark River, concluded that White's novels "mix action and introspection in just the right proportions."
In Captiva, an explosion down at Dikin's Bay Marina takes the life of Jimmy Darroux, a local commercial fisherman. With his last breath, Jimmy asks Tomlinson to care for Hannah, a request that sends Tomlinson to seek the assistance of best friend Doc Ford in tracking the mysterious woman. Wes Lukowsky, in a review for Booklist, called this entry in the Ford series "a top-shelf thriller written with poetic style and vision." A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that "the whole weird trip, fueled by the author's thoroughly convincing recreation of his chosen and much-loved world, is a blast."
North of Havana brings Doc Ford's past life as an agent for the CIA roaring back when he finds himself forced to head down to Cuba, where he had worked before, to rescue his friend Tomlinson when he gets himself into a jam. Things grow more and more complicated once Doc Ford arrives on the island, with plots to kill Castro and Russian agents the least of Ford's difficulties. Bill Ott, writing for Booklist, opined: "Great action scenes, terrific Havana atmosphere … and a full-bodied hero add up to mainstream genre pleasure." Michelle Green, reviewing the book for People, commented that White "has a naturalist's eye and an ironic sensibility that make this genre novel add up to more than the sum of its parts." A contributor to Publishers Weekly observed: "White never blushes at an outrageous plot turn, but in his capable hands, neither will his readers."
In The Mangrove Coast, Doc Ford is called upon to assist the daughter of a deceased friend, who enlists Ford to help locate her mother. The girl is concerned that the mother's recent disappearance was not intentional, as the woman has become involved with a con man. Ford's search takes him to Mexico, then Panama, where it becomes clear the girl's mother is far from the first woman to be conned. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found the story weaker than White's norm, remarking: "From a writer whose work is usually marked by tight construction and wry dialogue, this fizzy tale is a misfire." However, Bill Ott, reviewing for Booklist, dubbed Ford "enough of an old-school hero to please those who crave traditional genre fare." Library Journal contributor Thomas L. Kirkpatrick remarked: "Master of the thrilling climax and surprise ending, White leaves the reader breathless and satisfied."
Everglades finds Ford brooding more than usual about his violent past and the friends he has lost along the way to his previously dangerous lifestyle. When a woman from the past in question comes to let him know her husband has become involved with a cult and vanished into the Everglades, he takes the opportunity to distract himself by going after the man. Although he continues to vacillate between his tendency toward predatory behavior and his desire to be a gentler individual, Ford ultimately does what he must to solve the mystery. In a review for Booklist, Bill Ott remarked: "When Ford finally quits waffling and lets his lizard brain out of jail, the result is pulsating action and a kind of atavistic catharsis."
In Tampa Burn, Ford's fairly calm existence is shattered when his son, Lake, is kidnapped. Although the boy's mother, Pilar, is estranged from Ford, she comes to him for help to get their son back. In the process of saving Lake, Ford succumbs to Pilar's charms, thereby cheating on his current girlfriend, and tangles with an assortment of circus performers, one of whom is the kidnapper. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews noted a number of flaws in the book, but still dubbed it "his best sheer storytelling in years." Bill Ott, reviewing for Booklist, opined that White "can always be counted on for an entertaining mix of character interplay and straight-ahead action adventure."
Dark Light begins by following a hurricane in Florida, with Ford cleaning up the damage caused by the storm. He is hired to check out and clear wreckage of the Dark Light, an old boat uncovered by the hurricane. When Nazi artifacts are discovered onboard, Ford finds himself in the midst of a deeper investigation. Ott remarked in Booklist: "Not one of the series' high-water marks, perhaps, but still a compelling readable tale by one of this country's premier crime novelists." In the next Doc Ford thriller, Hunter's Moon, Ford helps a former president track down a killer who set fire to his wife's plane.
White's nonfiction books include his best writing from Outside magazine, for which he completed many bizarre assignments. Some of them—participation in an antiterrorist driving school and a wrestling academy—are written with tongue-in-cheek humor. Others have a more serious purpose and scope. In any case, William O. Scheeren in Library Journal found White's nonfiction writing style "pleasing and engaging" and called The Sharks of Lake Nicaragua: True Tales of Adventure, Travel, and Fishing a "fine book." In a Publishers Weekly review of the same title, a critic declared: "It's hard to imagine a better guide than White…. [He] proves his mettle as an incisive humorist and a first-rate travel journalist."
On his Web site, White noted: "The thing I love most to write about is Doc Ford and his friends at Dinkin's Bay. I was a light-tackle fishing guide at Tarpon Bay Marina on Sanibel Island, Florida, for thirteen years, and the Ford novels afford me the opportunity to revisit a time, and people, about which I care deeply."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Audubon, March 1, 1992, Terry George, review of Batfishing in the Rainforest: Strange Tales of Travel and Fishing, p. 110.
Booklist, December 1, 1993, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Man Who Invented Florida, p. 678; June 1, 1994, Bill Ott, review of The Man Who Invented Florida, p. 1779; April 1, 1996, Wes Lukowsky, review of Captiva, p. 1346; April 15, 1997, Bill Ott, review of North of Havana, p. 1414; August 1, 1998, Bill Ott, review of The Mangrove Coast, p. 1977; May 1, 2000, Bill Ott, review of Ten Thousand Islands, p. 1625; May 1, 2001, Bill Ott, review of Captiva, p. 1603, May 1, 2002, review of Twelve Mile Limit, p. 1485, review of Shark River, p. 1643; May 1, 2003, Bill Ott, review of Everglades, p. 1555; May 1, 2003, review of North of Havana, p. 1553; May 15, 2004, Bill Ott, review of Tampa Burn, p. 1580; March 15, 2005, Bill Ott, review of Dead of Night, p. 1271; February 15, 2006, Bill Ott, review of Dark Light, p. 7; March 1, 2007, Bill Ott, review of Hunter's Moon, p. 39.
Christian Science Monitor, January 9, 1992, Mary Warner Marien, review of Batfishing in the Rainforest, p. 11.
Entertainment Weekly, April 19, 1996, Curt Feldman, review of Captiva, p. 72.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of Twelve Mile Limit, p. 532; March 15, 2003, review of Everglades, p. 433; April 15, 2004, review of Tampa Burn, p. 362; February 15, 2006, review of Dark Light, p. 161; February 1, 2007, review of Hunter's Moon, p. 98.
Library Journal, September 15, 1991, David Panciera, review of Batfishing in the Rainforest, p. 104; November 1, 1993, Rex E. Klett, review of The Man Who Invented Florida, p. 151; February 15, 1996, Thomas L. Kilpatrick, review of Captiva, p. 177; April 15, 1997, Charles Michaud, review of North of Havana, p. 121; September 1, 1998, Thomas L. Kilpatrick, review of The Mangrove Coast, p. 218; June 15, 1999, William O. Scheeren, review of The Sharks of Lake Nicaragua: True Tales of Adventure, Travel, and Fishing, p. 98; February 15, 2002, John McCormick, review of Last Flight Out: True Tales of Adventure, Travel, and Fishing, p. 169.
MBR Bookwatch, March 1, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Dead of Night.
New York Times, December 12, 1991, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Batfishing in the Rainforest, p. 20.
New York Times Book Review, December 26, 1993, Marilyn Stasio, review of The Man Who Invented Florida, p. 22; July 9, 2000, review of Ten Thousand Islands, p. 28.
People, June 16, 2007, Michelle Green, review of North of Havana, p. 36.
Publishers Weekly, March 9, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Sanibel Flats, p. 54; September 27, 1991, review of Batfishing in the Rainforest, p. 52; January 1, 1992, review of The Heat Islands, p. 50; October 25, 1993, review of The Man Who Invented Florida, p. 46; February 12, 1996, review of Captiva, p. 62; March 17, 1997, review of North of Havana, p. 77; August 10, 1998, review of The Mangrove Coast, p. 372; May 24, 1999, review of The Sharks of Lake Nicaragua, p. 54; May 8, 2000, review of Ten Thousand Islands, p. 1625; May 7, 2001, review of Shark River, p. 222; April 8, 2002, review of Twelve Mile Limit, p. 200; May 5, 2003, review of Everglades, p. 197; April 26, 2004, review of Tampa Burn, p. 41; February 6, 2006, review of Dark Light, p. 45; January 15, 2007, review of Hunter's Moon, p. 33.
Tribune Books, December 12, 1993, review of The Man Who Invented Florida, p. 7; April 7, 1996, review of Captiva, p. 7; July 7, 2002, review of Twelve Mile Limit, p. 2; July 13, 2003, review of Everglades, p. 7.
Randy Wayne White Home Page,http://www.docford.com (August 29, 2007).