Night Moves, by Randy Wayne White. Putnam. 368 pages. $26.95.
In 1945, five Navy torpedo bombers called Avengers took off from Fort Lauderdale and disappeared on a mission named Flight 19. The planes and fourteen men vanished, to become transformed into legend and into the search objective of many treasure hunters and other adventurers who’d want credit, fame, and who knows what else by solving the mystery.
Now, almost seventy years later, Doc Ford, his drug-enhanced ethereal buddy Tomlinson, and veteran pilot Dan Futch are flying over the Everglades to test Dan’s theory of where the planes went down. A mechanical failure leads do an emergency landing, after which Dan discovers that the seaplane was sabotaged to fail.
Who would want to do such a thing? Is someone simply after Dan Futch? Or are there people who would like to see this particular quest fail? Why? Are there competitors who hope to claim discovery rights for the long-gone aircraft? Or is the saboteur actually after Tomlinson, who has been tempting fate by romancing the gorgeous, semi-crazed Cressa Arturo, a wealthy married woman on the edge of divorce?
But wait, Tomlinson has also made an enemy of Kondo Ogbay, a Haitian narcotics overlord. Could Ogbay have arranged the mechanical breakdown to injure or kill Tomlinson? Or just to threaten him?
Whatever is going on in Doc Ford’s world, a lot of it is being surreptitiously photographed.
As the pursuit of evidence about the missing Avengers moves forward, the plot population grows. We meet a jet-set assassin with at least two names who alternately snubs, threatens, and befriends Doc Ford. This handsome, dashing fellow, at once Brazilian and Germanic, is a history buff who would greatly enjoy being in on the Flight 19 search action. Mr. White skillfully builds the grudging respect that Doc and this elite killer (a kind of alter ego for Doc) have for one another.
Night Moves has a wide range of integrated details that enrich the readers’ sense of context and culture without being ultimately necessary to the plot. Information about a Native American Bone Field in the Everglades, concerns about illegal fishing techniques, and even a narrative thread that exploits the increase in the region’s population of large exotic snakes all show Randy Wayne White’s skills in weaving a hugely interesting tapestry of environmental and atmospheric complexity. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the March 27, 2013 Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the March 28 Naples edition, the April 11 Charlotte County edition, and the May 2 Palm Beach County/Jupiter edition, click here Florida Weekly – Night Moves 1 and here Florida Weekly – Night Moves 2