A 24th adventure for Marion “Doc” Ford (Deep Blue, 2016, etc.) interrupts his pursuit of a child pornographer to take him into even murkier waters: a kidnapping apparently haunted by a similar crime nearly a century ago.
Back during Prohibition, as an opening Author’s Note obligingly recounts, crusading real-life Deputy John Henry Cox briefly made headlines by disappearing along with his whole family in the middle of his investigation of a bootlegging ring that had made it clear that his attentions weren’t welcome. The case was never closed, and it’s mostly been forgotten—except by Tootsie Barlow, a noted fishing guide who’s convinced that his late father Albert’s involvement in the bootlegging is somehow responsible for his own family’s considerable troubles. Tootsie’s 17-year-old niece, Gracie, has vanished as completely as Deputy Cox; in fact, as Tootsie doesn’t yet know, she’s been kidnapped by an unlovely duo who include Ivy Lambeth, the daughter of legendary smuggler Walter Lambeth, and someone who may or may not be Ivy’s nephew Slaten, the tattoo artist Gracie’s chosen as her unsuitable boyfriend. Doc’s off in the Bahamas on the trail of child porn merchant Jimmy Lutz, and although he promises to return home to Sanibel Island in response to his buddy Tomlinson’s urgent phone call about the Barlow family’s woes, he doesn’t even get out of Lutz’s hotel before another entanglement pops up, this one featuring Lady Gillian Cobourg, an unacknowledged relative of the royal family whom Doc needs to rescue from a fate worse than death. What will have become of Gracie Barlow by the time he gets home?
White comes up with a novel way to re-examine historical crimes: reincarnate the criminals as fictional present-day killers. It’s a crazy idea, and some crazy developments trail in its wake, but it works better than you might expect.