Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Baja Florida by Bob Morris

Zack Chasteen isn't a typical detective in a crime novel. Sure, he's an ex-football player, and an ex-con. But, he's perfectly happy living on his own little patch of Florida with his wife, Barbara, and daughter, Shula, running Chasteen's Palm Tree Nursery. And, he isn't a private detective. But, he's a loyal friend, and that's what sets him on his latest adventure in Bob Morris' Baja Florida.

When his friend, Mickey Ryser shows up, he needs Zack's help. Mickey is dying, and wants Zack to track down his daughter for him. Mickey hasn't seen Jen in years, but he talked to her, and she had been planning to sail her boat down to meet him. Somewhere between Charleston and the Bahamas, Jen and her sailboat disappeared, and the private detective Mickey hired hasn't had answers for him. So, Mickey's dying wish is for Zack to find Jen. And, Zack can't turn down the man who was always a big brother to him.

It isn't as easy to find Jen in the Bahamas as Zack had hoped. He finds that one of her friends jumped ship. There are odd stories about a fire and the crew that never boarded the sailboat. So, Zack and two buddies find themselves looking for her among the islands where other ships have disappeared, and people went missing. There are plenty of places for people to vanish in Zack's Baja Florida.

Bob Morris uses an unusual technique in his books in which readers follow Zack, but we also overhear the villains and their discussions. He doesn't reveal the names of the villains, but we're a little wiser as to their plans than Zack. This technique works, but what really works in these books is the character of Zack Chasteen. As I said before, Zack is a loyal friend, and that loyalty gets him in trouble. But, he's the best friend to have at your back, as Morris proves again in the engrossing novel, Baja Florida.

Bob Morris' website is

Baja Florida by Bob Morris. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2010. ISBN 9780312377267 (hardcover), 256p.

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