Finding a new writer to read – and better yet, a whole series of books – is like finding a great sale on the very thing you needed and didn’t even know it, a chance to make new friends and go to new places, and a treasure hunt – all rolled into one. My personal high water mark for this has been my quest called “Seeking Travis McGee”.
After blowing through John D. MacDonald’s 21 book series in the summer of 1994, Travis became my mental companion for the next 15 years. I’ve read a bunch of character series, and enjoyed them all – but never found an equal to Travis.
Often people compare Thorn – James W. Hall’s character – to Travis, but I don’t agree with the supposed similarities. Travis is a wry commentator who enjoys people, even when he’s used and abused. I see Thorn as annoyed, angry and isolated – by choice. I continue to read the Thorn series, but he’s definitely in a different category.
Knowing my perspective on Travis, a member of our book club asked if I had read the “Doc Ford” series. She then brought me a few to try and I am hooked! (Thanks Jonie!) Randy Wayne White’s character, Marion “Doc” Ford is definitely a branch off the McGee family tree. I’m on book 5 of 17, and know that I have a great summer read ahead of me. And, better yet, Randy Wayne White is still writing the series as the current novel was published in March this year. Where Travis had running commentary on pretty much everything, Doc Ford is more of a detached observer. It goes along with his marine biologist education – observe, record, and stay detached as much as possible – except where there is a cause, a woman, or a friend in need – then it’s full throttle. So, here are a few other bits of commentary on my new friend Doc Ford. Time to make room on the bookshelf…..and I owe Jonie a serious summer bonus!
Paging Doc Ford…..Bluwatergal
From Publishers Weekly
Of all the writers currently exploiting the Florida mayhem boom, only White can claim to have created a series hero, marine biologist Marion “Doc” Ford, to match Hemingway’s memorable outdoorsmen and John D. MacDonald’s much-missed Travis McGee.
From Kirkus Reviews
A savior-for-hire who seems to worship at the shrine of Travis McGee can’t go wrong assuming everybody on the horizon is out to make trouble for the ladies, and standing ready to repel the monstrous males one by one. And that’s just what Doc Ford, who’d have you believe he’d rather be supplying marine specimens to the Mote Marine Laboratory than mixing it up with the bad guys, does—with results more stimulating to the adrenal glands than the cerebral cortex.
Randy Wayne White–try saying that three times, fast–had everybody shouting about a new Travis McGee with 1996’s Captiva. But White’s marine biologist Doc Ford is a much more complicated character than the late, great John D. MacDonald’s muscular bounty hunter. For one thing, Ford has a shadowy political past–which explains why he’s reluctant to race down to Havana to bail out his chemically-abusive friend Tomlinson when his boat is impounded under suspicious circumstances. “By most definitions it was a nightmare, but to me it was simply a sleeping revisitation of a thing I had done, a thing that I loathed,” says Doc–planting the seeds of a revelation about his past and showing off the kind of writing that makes his new book so compulsively readable.
The Florida-Times Union – Jacksonville.com – Review
Let’s hope Sanibel Island author Randy Wayne White keeps churning them out. His protagonist, Doc Ford, is definitely the West Coast Travis McGee, and we fans eagerly await each new installment. White’s latest, “Deep Shadow,” does not disappoint. Just when you think Doc has done it all (this is No. 17 in the series), White, like a major league pitcher, whiffs us with a high hard one. No international intrigue. No foreign spies. No secret agents. No police shenanigans. No drug lords. And no effete snobs. Just a lake not far from home, bad guys right out of “In Cold Blood” and a plane full of history.