The Bookworm Sez: A few curve balls in 'Cuba Straits'

The Bookworm Sez: A few curve balls in ‘Cuba Straits’

It was not where you put it last.

How many hours — days? — of your life are wasted looking for something you can’t find? You spend so much effort searching for that which isn’t where it’s supposed to be — and what’s worse, as you’ll see in the new thriller “Cuba Straits” by Randy Wayne White (c.2015, Putnam, $26.95, 314 pages), is helping an old friend whose search could cost more than just time.

Marion “Doc” Ford had a lot on his mind.

Recently, on the same beach, the marine biologist found an unusual turtle and a beautiful woman. He freed the former from ocean debris, spent the night with the latter, and could get neither out of his mind, which is why he was barely listening to his buddy Tomlinson prattle about baseball.

Ford was even more distracted when he spotted someone he never thought he’d see again, sitting in the bleachers.

General Juan Simón Rivera had once tried to kill Ford but they’d recently managed to forge a shaky sort of friendship. Ford knew that Rivera had taken a risk in coming from Cuba to Florida, so whatever he wanted had to be big.

But the General only wanted a favor from an old friend.

Rivera had figured out a way to smuggle Cuban baseball players into the U.S., but he’d lost a shortstop. Not lost, exactly; the player wandered away, and had taken with him a briefcase with which Rivera had entrusted him. Rivera needed Ford’s help to find the shortstop and, though he wouldn’t exactly say why, he also wanted Ford to travel to Cuba , too.

Finding the shortstop had been simple dumb luck: Tomlinson, who lived for baseball, stumbled upon Figueroa Casanova in a park, and they’d bonded over the game. Casanova claimed that he hadn’t looked in the briefcase — but Tomlinson did, and he realized that a lot of people would be looking for its Castro-era contents.

Though Casanova had a reputation for being insane, Tomlinson learned that it was a ruse; the little shortstop was on the ball more than anyone thought. But why did Rivera want a bunch of sixty-year-old letters and how were they tied to the murders of three little girls? In answering those questions, Ford found big trouble …

Let’s put this on the table first: “Cuba Straits” is anything but straight.

Though readers will find a good bunch of thrilling moments in this novel, there’s also a lot of convoluted plot-twisting, far-fetched clues, torturous red herrings, and maybe one or two side-plots too many. I have to admit that the thriller parts were heart-pounding and I quite enjoyed the ruthless evil killers, but the book’s other facets made the story often hard to follow.

I don’t know, therefore, that I can recommend this book for anyone but fans of author Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford. For sure, if you’re new to this series, this isn’t the book to begin with. Instead, pick up one of the earlier books in the series and start there, because “Cuba Straits” may only make you lost.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at

More in Life

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: ‘Tis the Season

The Kenai Community Library has always been one of the stars in the crown of the community.

Homer News Ben Mitchell, left, serves spaghetti to helper Pat Wells in the kitchen at a past Share the Spirit spaghetti feed. (Michael Armstrong/Homer News file)
Looking to share some holiday spirit? Here’s how

Share the Spirit serves the Homer community by donating food, essential needs and Christmas presents.

Appease your child’s picky palate with these tasty Tater Tots. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Tots to be thankful for

Two years ago, I spent the entirety of Thanksgiving Day in my green rocking chair, cradling my newborn son.

Minister’s Message: Keep in step

Sometimes it takes going half way around the world to learn how to “keep in step” as I journey.

Shelli and Mike Gordon pose in October 2011 at their Halibut Cove, Alaska, home in an Alaska Gothic version of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting. (Photo courtesy of Mike Gordon)
‘Dagnabit’ features tales of ’80s wild Alaska

Gordon’s second book also tells of Ruben Gaines, creator of Chilkoot Charlie.

Before boiling, this handmade pasta is rolled, cut and tossed in flour to keep from sticking. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Pasta by hand

Learning one of the most important task of the Italian kitchen: making the pasta.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
The Great Thanksgiving dessert debate

Our holiday gathering is going to be smaller than it sometimes is, and it was argued that we didn’t need two desserts.

Dianne Spence-Chorman’s “Fig Study” is one of the works showing in the Homer Council on the Arts “Fun wtih 5x7” show through Dec. 22, 2021, at the gallery in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
‘Fun with 5×7’ offers affordable art

HCOA annual art show presents art in a variety of media, all in 5x7 format.

Make pumpkin chocolate chip with cinnamon buttercream cupcakes for a decadent fall treat. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: In honor of ‘Cupcake Mondays’

Pumpkin chocolate chip with cinnamon buttercream cupcakes brighten up the dreariest of work.

Nick Varney
Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Back off, Zeus

If this wet-n-warm, freeze, then start again, continues much longer, Kachemak Drive will need a complete redo.

The cover of Tom Kizzia’s book, “Cold Mountain Path,” published by Porphyry Press in October 2021. (Photo provided)
‘Cold Mountain Path’ explores ghost town history of McCarthy

Kizzia’s book looks at McCarthy history from 1938 to the town’s revival as a tourist destination.

Melinda Hershberger works on her installation for the Kenai Art Center’s collaborative mural project on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Wall-to-wall creativity

Artists collaborate on a single mural at the Kenai Art Center this month.