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 bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

More in Life

Lemongrass chicken skewers are best made on a grill, but can be made in the oven. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion
On the strawberry patch: Tangling with waves

Lemon grass chicken skewers top off a day in the surf

This photo of Frenchy with a freshly killed black bear was taken on the Kenai Peninsula in the early 1900s. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
Unraveling the story of Frenchy, Part 1

The stories were full of high adventure — whaling, mining, polar bear hunting, extensive travel, and the accumulation of wealth

File
Seeing God’s hand in this grand and glorious creation

The same God of creation is the God that made me and you with the same thoughtfulness of design, purpose and intention

Chewy and sweet the macaroons are done in 30 minutes flat. (Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Sophisticated, simplified

When macarons are too complicated, make these delicious, simple macaroons

Michael S. Lockett / capital city weekly
Gigi Monroe welcomes guests to Glitz at Centennial Hall, a major annual drag event celebrated every Pride Month, on June 18.
Packed houses, back to back: GLITZ a roaring success

Sold-out sets and heavy-hitting headliners

Michael Armstrong / Homer News 
Music lovers dance to Nervis Rex at the KBBI Concert on the Lawn on July 28, 2012, at Karen Hornaday Park in Homer.
Concert on the Lawn returns

COTL line up includes The English Bay Band, a group that played in 1980

Marcia and Mary Alice Grainge pose in 1980 with a pair of caribou antlers they found in 1972. The sisters dug the antlers from deep snow and detached them from a dead caribou. (Photo provided by Marcia Grainge King)
Fortune and misfortune on the Kenai — Part 2

In Kasilof, and on Kachemak Bay, in Seldovia and later in Unga, Petersen worked various jobs before being appointed deputy marshal in 1934

Most Read