Review

Dead Silence

by Randy Wayne White

If you haven’t sampled any of Randy Wayne White’s
books, you’re missing something good. There are many riches
to be plumbed from these titles. For our present purposes, let us
limit our discussion to Marion “Doc” Ford, the former
NSA agent and current Sanibel Island marine biologist. Ford’s
past work left him with a skill set that he keeps sharpened and at
the ready, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not so much. Both
circumstances are presented in DEAD SILENCE.

The novel opens with Ford committing an act of revenge against
Bern Heller, a rapist and murderer who has been released from
prison pending a new trial. His act of rough justice precedes a
trip to New York, which is to function as an alibi. Indeed, he
establishes his presence in Manhattan with a bang when he thwarts
the kidnapping of a United States Senator who was to be his dinner
companion for the evening. The rescue is not entirely successful,
though, as the Senator was accompanied by Will Chaser, a
14-year-old boy who was the winner of an essay-writing contest and
whose prize --- a trip to New York --- is turning out to be much
more than he had bargained for. The kidnappers merely switch gears
and hold the teen instead of the Senator for ransom. Ford feels at
least partially responsible and jumps in to aid in the search for
Chaser, who the kidnappers have buried at an unknown location.

What I have given you so far would be more than enough to get a
story rolling along nicely, with that invisible plot clock ticking
merrily away on every page. White, however, slowly unravels a
couple of plot undercurrents that are nothing less than
fascinating. For one, DEAD SILENCE occurs at some undetermined
point in the very near future, shortly after the death of Fidel
Castro. U.S. Intelligence has acquired a literal treasure trove of
Castro’s possessions, which include everything from jewels to
art treasures to collectibles to documents. It is jewels and
documents that the kidnappers would be wanting, the latter in
particular since they reveal, among other things, the identity of
the traitor whose timely revelations to Castro betrayed the Bay of
Pigs invasion. The abductors are two psychopaths who are
well-schooled in the techniques of forced interrogation and who
enjoy using them to the utmost. There is no doubt that they will
kill their captive if their demands are not met; it is likely, in
fact, that they will murder him in any event.

Chaser, however, has a bit going for him as well. An American
Indian whose short life has been full of troubles, he does not
color within the lines, a behavioral inclination that holds him in
good stead when dealing with his captors. In short, they have their
hands full, and then some. Ford also has his hands full. His search
for Chaser inadvertently reopens the mysterious disappearance of a
young woman and leads back to the doorstep of his Sanibel Island
neighbor, the eccentric and enigmatic Tomlinson, who may have a
secondary tie to Chaser’s kidnapping as well. And while Ford
is searching for Chaser’s burial location in New York, the
body of Heller has washed up on shore down in Florida --- and
Doc Ford is at the top of the suspect list. Ford must clear his own
name of a crime for which he is guilty, while saving the life of an
innocent who, as we learn, is anything but an angel. Ford
isn’t entirely successful by story’s end, but he
doesn’t do badly, either.

Randy Wayne White is a Sanibel Island resident, and knows his
terrain both inside and outside Florida quite well. One gets the
sense that Doc Ford is what White would be if he could get away
with it (or, for that matter, maybe he really does get away with
it). While DEAD SILENCE stands quite well on its own, references
within to what has gone before will send new readers running to
White’s backlist, a feast that will hold them until his next
work.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 29, 2010

Dead Silence
by Randy Wayne White

  • Publication Date: March 10, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399155406
  • ISBN-13: 9780399155406