“Gone,” by Randy Wayne White. Putman. 336 pages. $25.95.
In his latest novel, Randy Wayne White has taken a big chance, and it has a huge payoff. After nineteen reliably exciting Doc Ford thrillers, he has begun a new series featuring Hannah Smith. Hannah is a fishing guide in Mr. White’s familiar territory – coastal Southwest Florida and is adjacent islands. She took over the business from her late Uncle Jake, and with it a rather moribund private detective agency. In her early thirties, Hannah is a tall, unconventionally attractive woman who does not usually think highly of herself. However, she has begun to find some late-bloomer confidence. And she’ll need all she can muster.
A wealthy and somewhat eccentric fishing client, Lawrence Seasons, observing Hannah’s resourcefulness on a troubled fishing trip, determines that she is the one to find out what has happened to his missing niece, Olivia. The vanished young woman has a mind-boggling inheritance awaiting signature on a legal document. Since Olivia is not an adventurous person, Lawrence is worried about her having dropped out of sight. Once Lawrence’s choice is seconded by his good friend and lawyer, Martha Caulder-Shaun, Hannah swings into action.
From conversations with her wide range of local acquaintances, Hannah determines that Olivia may have fallen under the influence, perhaps the control, of Texas bad-boy Ricky Meeks. Meeks is a monster, one of the very best among the many that Mr. White has created over the years. His obsessive need to dominate and inflict pain is matched by his uncanny ability to foster dependency in the women whom he makes his prey. Hannah finds out about one such victim, Elka Whitney. Slowly, Hannah pulls out of her an understanding of the mesmerizing sick artistry of Meeks through which his sadly abused victims end up being jealous of his next victims.
How can a reserved young woman like Olivia Seasons survive the physical and psychological damage that Meeks lives to mete out? How can she be found, separated from Meeks, and set on the path to restored self respect? What will Hannah have to risk to secure Olivia’s rescue? . . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the August 30, 2012 issue of the Naples Florida Weekly, the September 5 Fort Myers edition, and the September 6 Bonita Springs edition, click here: Florida Weekly – RWW’s “Gone” 1 and here: Florida Weekly – RWW’s “Gone” 2.
For my comments on other RWW books, click here: https://philjason.wordpress.com/?s=Randy+Wayne+White