A Category 4 hurricane whips through Florida's West Coast and blows Doc Ford (Dead of Night, 2005, etc.) back to World War II.
Start with the Dark Light, the boat sunk with all hands near Sanibel Island, during the famously destructive hurricane of Oct. 20, 1944. No, start with the mysterious woman who lives alone in Southland, the beach-front mansion that, like her, has seen better days. She's the one who links the doomed vessel with the vicious circle that was the German high command during the waning days of WWII. Or start with Bern Heller, an unredeemed sociopath with grisly secrets and a connection to the Dark Light that will shock even him. White keeps them all in play as he spins one of the most intriguing plots—the 13th—of the Doc Ford series. So there's Doc fortuitously happening on the wrecked Dark Light made newly accessible by the vagaries of the storm. Doc, a marine biologist and occasional diver, finds some arresting stuff as he strolls the briny bottom, most notably a diamond-studded brooch shaped like a death's head with a swastika at its center. Plus other dismal mementos of the Third Reich. How to account for them? When Doc meets the dark lady of Southland, the tale begins to unfold, a tale that reaches back and forth in time, remarkable for the duplicity of its cast and the diversity of its twisting and turning. It has to do with murder, with spies, with star-crossed lovers and with a range of celebrated people swinging wide enough to include Henry Ford, Adolph Hitler and Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Because White cuts back on the digressive sermonizing that has slowed his recent storytelling, Doc (brain of a Nobelist, heart of a Rambo) gets a renewed chance to shine.