The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 16, 2010

Phyllis Sessengood: Series authors keep stories going in latest installments

By Phyllis Sessengood
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — “Deep Shadow” by Randy Wayne White (compact disc audiobook)

Doc Ford (marine biologist/bar owner/past government operative) is asked by his friend, Arlis Futch, to help find sunken treasure in a lake. The property owners of the land where the lake is located hired Arlis to find and try to eliminate some reptilian creatures that had been devouring their livestock.

When Arlis offered to purchase the land, they were quite happy to sell it to him. Arlis didn’t tell them that he had accidentally stumbled onto to some gold coins near the lake. He is convinced that a cargo plane crashed into the lake over fifty years ago.

The plane was purported to be carrying gold bars and coins that Batista, Castro’s predecessor, had looted from the national treasury in Cuba. Ford is rather skeptical of the story but is always ready for an adventure.

He and his pals -- Arlis, the free-spirited hippie Tomlinson and 16-year-old Cherokee Indian Will Chaser -- arrive at the lake and prepare to dive for sunken treasure. They leave Arlis to guard their equipment, keep watch and, if necessary, call for help.

Unbeknownst to the group, two ex-cons (King and Perry), are hiding in a mangrove swamp on the property watching the group getting ready for the big dive. Only a few days before the two had murdered a family.

Doc and his other two friends don scuba gear and dive into the lake and a short time later the killers capture Arlis and tie him up.

Disaster also strikes beneath the water when the rim of an underwater cave collapses and Doc and his friends are separated. Doc knows that the oxygen in their tanks will not last long so he must work fast to rescue them.

When he reaches the surface of the lake, he discovers the danger that has been lurking above and understands that he must utilize his skills to save his friends and kill the two murderers.

None of them realizes that there is yet another danger lurking in the dark -- perhaps even more dangerous than the deranged killers.

Randy Wayne White has written another Doc Ford thriller (No. 17 in the series) that entertains, educates and is suspenseful to the end. George Guidall narrates in his usual excellent style.

“House Justice” by Mike Lawson (compact disc audiobook)

“House Justice” by Mike Lawson is the fifth political thriller in the Joe DeMarco series and could have been ripped from today’s headlines. The protagonist, Joe DeMarco, is a former lawyer but now works as a “fixer” for Speaker of the House John Mahoney.

Mahata Javadi, a top CIA spy who had worked in Tehran for six years, had just informed the CIA that an American defense contractor had attempted to sell missile technology to the Iranians.

Before she can make her escape, Javadi is exposed, brutally tortured and murdered after her story is leaked to a journalist. The journalist refuses to reveal her source, but the CIA director and Mahoney both have their own reasons for discovering who leaked the information to the journalist.

Mahoney asks DeMarco to investigate, but the CIA assigns Special Agent Angela DeCapria to find the source of the leak and the two work the case together. When DeMarco and Angela discover that someone has been following Joe, they become aware that another person wants to locate as well the source and is willing to go to great lengths to avenge Mahata’s death.

Fascinating, entertaining and amoral characters populate this novel filled with intrigue, violence and a complex, fast-paced, and gripping plot containing several subplots -- the elements of an excellent thriller.

Joe Barrett’s narration is outstanding. He manages to convey an excellent range of voices and accents while keeping the numerous characters straight.

Print versions of both books are also available at the Joplin Public Library.