Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spoils of War: Haunted a novel by Randy Wayne White

Randy Wayne White continues his series with a new story about the South Florida fishing guide and part time private detective, Hannah Smith. The tough but feminine Hannah comes from a long line of Gulf Coast fishermen and adventurers and is savvy in the ways of native born residents of the area in and around Sanibel Island. Like the first two books in the series, Gone and Deceived, Haunted describes traditions and contemporary life in an area of Florida that relies heavily on ranch and ocean activities supporting the local population. Tourists come and go, but the locals feel a deep sense of ownership and protection of the land, sea, and wildlife. White is a resident of the area he writes about, and always gives his readers interesting historical information about the Gulf Coast people and places.

In this novel, readers learn about the part of American Civil War that was waged in Florida. Legacies and relics of perhaps the worst war in U. S. history, from the standpoint of its citizens, play a role in Hannah’s investigation of a large abandoned house in partial ruin with an interesting history of family wealth and tragedy. Hired by the wealthy socialite aunt of her best girlfriend Birdy (Hannah’s nickname for Liberty Grace), the two agree to spend a week in the “haunted” house to see if it is possessed by ghosts or visited by squatters/vandals.  “Dame Bunny” as Birdy refers to her aunt is trying to sell the land surrounding the house as part of a larger real estate deal, but state mandated archaeological work has revealed Civil War relics and possible graveyards with human skeletons. The deal is on hold.

The story has many interesting interactions involving Hannah and Birdy (a deputy sheriff with jurisdiction in the area) with characters who are interested in the land deal and finding lost relics including stashes of money and historical artifacts from the Civil War period. The characters include: an experimental drug using archeologist, carnival people wintering in Florida including gypsies, dwarfs, and psychics, and a kindly aging historian with his apparently mentally challenged hired hand. Wild life is prolific in the area (wild and captive) with poisonous snakes, raging monkeys, huge alligators, swarming mosquitos, and masses of scorpions.

Randy Wayne White continues his now established Hannah Smith series with perhaps his most exciting story so far,  Haunted. Meanwhile the writer continues his much longer series featuring marine biologist and “black ops” operative Doc Ford (21 novels in that series).  Hannah and Doc Ford have a relationship, but in this novel he is in South America on a black ops mission. For readers who enjoy thriller series,  Haunted delivers all the informative and exciting entertainment you are looking for.

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