Deceived, by Randy Wayne White. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 352 pages. $26.95 hardcover.
This second installment in Mr. White’s Hannah Smith series, following the powerhouse debut of “Gone,” is totally satisfying. A reader with high expectations is easily disappointed; this reader had a delightful time getting to know Hannah better and being frightened, along with her, by mysterious and cruel events that test her courage and determination.
There is a little corner of coastal Southwest Florida, not far from Sanibel Island, that has a troubled history and a threatened present. It’s officially known as Sulfur Wells. Hannah tells her curious fishing clients that the row of tiny tin-roofed cottages is known as Munchkinville . One of these men, a member of the important Chatham family, collects antique fishing equipment; the other, good-looking Joel “Rance” Ransler, at first hides his identity as special prosecutor for the county. What are these men really fishing for, underdeveloped real estate?
More than a few strange things are happening. Hannah’s mother, Loretta, is concerned that her good friend Rosannah “Pinky” Helms can’t be located. Soon, Hannah goes out to PInky’s dilapidated home and – though threatened by ferocious dogs and a crazed, axe-wielding man – finds that Pinky has been murdered.
Is there any connection between this murder and the unsolved murder of Pinky’s late husband many years ago?
Some of Loretta’s valuable possessions, which had be put in the custody of the Helms family, have disappeared. Is there a connection between their disappearance and the pamphlets describing an organization called “Fisherfolk of South Florida” which touts a “Preserve Our Heritage” motto? It seems as if the elderly locals are being scammed by a scheme that invites donations of their family heirlooms to fund a local heritage museum. The scammers push the idea that the donors can get tax benefits from the government that is usually busy regulating their livelihoods – like fishing –out of existence.
And what’s that monstrous building looming alongside of Loretta’s modest home and grounds? How did bad neighbor and shady shrink Dr. Candor, psychiatric clinic and rehab center entrepreneur, have a bunch of zoning codes waived for that edifice? And where are the remains of the historic Indian shell mounds that were demolished to level the land? . . .
To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the August 28, 2013 Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the August 29 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte editions, and the September 5 Palm Beach Garden / Jupiter edition, click here: Florida Weekly – White’s “Deceived”