One of the five favorite crime fiction series is Randy Wayne White’s ‘Doc Ford’ novels, and this book is indicative of why.

DEAD SILENCE by Randy Wayne White.

Marion Ford, aka ‘Doc’, had always led something of a schizophrenic life. That’s par for the course when your mainstream job, the one the outside world knows about, is that of a marine biologist, and your shadow job is that of a covert operative who is, more often than not, an assassin. Sometimes it can be hard to separate the two. And so it is in ‘Dead Silence.’

Doc is in New York City for a meeting with his covert boss and uses the occasion to see his new friend, with occasional benefits, the powerful and attractive Senator Barbara Hayes-Sorrento. Unfortunately, just as her limousine is pulling to the curb in front of the Explorer’s Club, where Doc is waiting, an ambush aimed at kidnapping the senator unfolds. Doc springs into action and saves her from the bad guys, but he can’t save the 14 year old boy who is her guest in the limousine, a displaced young Indian who won a writing contest (by cheating) and is taken instead of the Senator. It soon becomes apparent that the boy is to be buried alive unless the government forks over some documents taken from Cuba after Castro died. Of course, the bad guys don’t know it yet, but snatching the boy was the biggest mistake they ever made.

Will Chaser is no ordinary 14 year old, although that could be bad enough. Will knows how to do things, and Will gets mad. When Will gets mad, bad things happen. Still, he is only 14 and the kidnappers are very bad people. Doc feels responsible for his kidnapping and vows to get him back alive, and to make the bad guys pay. Don’t they always?

The 16th Doc Ford novel finds author White in comfortable overdrive mode. There is the usual solid plot, the insightful dialogue, the quirky but dangerous secondary characters and, not least, Tomlinson. Doc’s offbeat best friend plays a prominent part in this book, but in the end it’s all just an excuse to bring even more fascinating characters into Doc’s immediate circle. Despite the action, despite the dead-on descriptions, these books are at heart about the characters, their motivations and their stories. ‘Dead Silence’ is no different. Thank goodness.