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Mangrove Lightning: A Doc Ford Novel    by Randy Wayne White order for
Mangrove Lightning
by Randy Wayne White
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
*   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I often jump into a series late in the game without difficulty, but recommend avoiding that with this Doc Ford thriller. Mangrove Lightning is the twenty-fourth episode in this bestselling series and I found it very hard to connect with the characters, having missed their back stories.

This episode has two main plot threads that never seem to connect. It opens in Nassau where Marion Ford is tailing a child-porn dealer. His friend Tomlinson calls, to tell him that legendary fishing guide Tootsie Barlow believes that a curse (based on a multiple murder in 1925 near Marco Island) is affecting his family members. Tootsie has asked for Tomlinson's help.

Meanwhile Ford enters the porn dealer's room and steals incriminating thumb drives from the safe. He also sabotages the man's diving gear. In the next room, he rescues a female celebrity from her massage therapist. Pursued by agents of the porn ring, he helps her get off the island and to deal with a blackmail plot.

After this, he returns to Florida to become embroiled in Tomlinson's quest, which begins with ghostly warnings, and continues (with Ford's help) with the rescue of Tootsie's niece, Gracie Barlow, who'd been held for 'nine days in a cubicle that smelled of rats.' Gracie is pregnant and Tootsie asks Ford's ex-lover Hannah Smith (who is also in the family way) to counsel her.

But pregnant Gracie is still on a hit list and when she's targeted again, Hannah is pulled in as well, leading to a violent finale. Though the historical back story is intriguing, I found this novel rather disconnected, though fans who have followed the series might still appreciate it.

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