(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Marine biologist and former CIA agent Doc Ford is happy, if somewhat going to seed, in this tenth tale of his sleuthing adventures in south Florida, that is, until his former lover, Sally Minster, turns up. Her husband, a real estate tycoon, had supposedly been killed boating in the Bahamas.

After reluctantly agreeing to help Sally discover whether her husband may still be alive, Ford runs into a number of weirdos plotting various sorts of mayhem in southern Florida. One—the bogus “Bhagwan Shiva” of the Church of Ashram Meditation Inc.—plans to regain financial solvency by using terrorists to engineer “miracle” earthquakes in the Everglades. The Bhagwan believes that because he will have foretold these events, his wealthy followers will return, bringing their large bank accounts with them.

As Ford and his hippie Zen buddy, Zighurdhr Tomlinson, unravel the mystery, the detective uncovers a dangerous threat to the fragile Everglades’ ecosystem with connections to U.S. exploitation of the Seminole Indians that dates back to the nineteenth century.

For readers hooked on Florida mysteries, Randy Wayne White’s novel provides campy entertainment. Everglades demonstrates White’s usual skilled plot twists and turns as well as his faithful rendition of the split rich and very poor Florida culture and of the coastline, interior and wild Everglade landscapes. Included in this novel is a look at the ravages brought to what had once been a tropical wonderland by greedy and environmentally contemptuous developers. If gaining a sense of what south Florida—especially the Everglades—“feels” like, this is a mystery worth reading.