The Book: Randy Wayne White, TWELVE MILE LIMIT. Putnam, 2002. Signed by the author with the inscription: "Octopi - geniuses of the phylum." Fine book, fine dust jacket.
First read: 2001
Owned since: 2002
Another Florida novel, since it seemed logical. Florida's ripe territory for crime fiction of all kinds, and Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford novels have the strongest claim on the legacy of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee adventures.
Marion D. "Doc" Ford is a former covert operative who now tries to live a quiet life in a marina on Sanibel Island, off the West Coast of Florida. He is a modern knight-errant, though, and can never resist pleas for help from old friends or beautiful women.
TWELVE MILE LIMIT is the best of the books so far, I think, and I'm not saying that just because the author and I were good friends while he was writing it, I read an early draft, I'm thanked in the acknowledgments and a boat's named after me in the text. (To date, this is the only book I appear in, though I'm thanked in several acknowledgments.)
TWELVE MILE LIMIT was inspired by -- though is not based on -- a real case of four friends who went out on a boat to SCUBA dive and lost their boat. One of the divers was found naked on a light tower, far from the site of the shipwreck; the other three disappeared without a trace.
White turns the survivor into a woman and imagines a story in which her companions were stolen, not lost. Doc Ford tracks the missing friends into the deepest jungles of South America, and sacrifices much in the process. It is classic adventure, and I learned a lot about South America along the way.
Five Random Songs
"Nobody Knows Me," Lyle Lovett. A song about cheating on the one who loves you best.
"Redondo Beach," Morrissey. From the Live in Earls Court album, a cover of the Patti Smith song about lost love.
"Worlds Apart," Bruce Springsteen. From The Rising, which came out not long after this book did, so I always think of the two works together.
"Mohammed's Radio," Warren Zevon. And this song has been in my head all week, watching Barack Obama in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's probably insensitive of me. I don't care.
"The State I'm In," Belle and Sebastian. "So I gave myself to God/There was a pregnant pause before He said OK."