Hannah Smith returns in the stunning new adventure in the New York Times–bestselling series from the author of the Doc Ford novels.
A twenty-year-old unsolved murder from Florida’s pothauling days gets Hannah Smith’s attention, but so does a more immediate problem. A private museum devoted solely to the state’s earliest settlers and pioneers has been announced, and many of Hannah’s friends and neighbors in Sulfur Wells are being pressured to make contributions.
The problem is, the whole thing is a scam, and when Hannah sets out to uncover whoever’s behind it, she discovers that things are even worse than she thought. The museum scam is a front for a real estate power play, her entire village is in danger of being wiped out—and the forces behind it have no intention of letting anything, or anyone, stand in their way.
Most fishing guides would consider it lucky to escape without injury or a lawsuit when, out of nowhere, a hundred-pound fish jumps into her boat and knocks two clients overboard.
When it happened on that clear, bright morning in April, the idea that a close call can also be a warning never entered my mind until later that afternoon. It was because of something a friend told me, a strange friend named Tomlinson whom some dismiss as a pot-smoking beach bum—which he is—but I like and trust the man anyway
“I’d either move to Montana for a week or fire your clients,” he counseled after giving my story some thought. “Could be a bad omen, Hannah—not the first time God sent a giant fish as His messenger.”
Which was something I didn’t take seriously because my boat was safely back at the dock and I had joined him in a hospital waiting room, hushed voices and the echoing footsteps of fear all around. Why worry about bad events in my future when there were people nearby with real problems? Some fighting for their lives, some recovering from near death—including a man I secretly hoped to date when he was well. Selfish thoughts didn’t seem right in such a setting. Besides, the tarpon had appeared so unexpectedly, the blurry details weren’t solid enough to carry the weight of a warning, let alone God’s personal message to me.
“Some of the crazy notions you get,” I replied, and expected a smile to signal he was joking. He wasn’t. Tomlinson is tall and gaunt-faced, with long, scraggily hair that he fiddles with when fretful or preoccupied. He was chewing a strand now.
“This morning, a tarpon lands in your boat while you were under way—what are the odds?”
“I know, I know,” I agreed. “My clients are lucky they weren’t hurt. Me, too. Not more than a few bruises between us, which is a miracle.”
“See?” Tomlinson said, then pressed, “A shark buzzed you, too. How big?”
The memory of that dorsal fin cleaving toward my client’s legs caused a shudder—the fin had to be a yard tall. “Doesn’t matter,” I said. “They dropped the idea of a lawsuit.”
Tomlinson shook his head in a way that suggested I had missed his point. “Go over it one more time. Close your eyes first. Picture what happened in your mind, and go slowly. It was only a few hours ago.”
“You’re serious?” I said.
“You see any magazines here you haven’t read?” He looked around the room where, the previous month, we had spent six long nights waiting, and now we were back again. Tomlinson was jumpy, I realized, eager for a diversion. Truth was, I felt the same. Soon, we hoped, a physician would come down the hallway and tell us if a man we both cared about, a biologist named Marion Ford, could carry on with his life or would need a second heart surgery.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll start from the beginning. “
Something inside me feared the worst, but I closed my eyes, let my mind drift back, and did what I had been asked to do.
Praise for DECEIVED
“Hannah brings a fresh perspective to White’s much-loved southwest Florida world.” ––Booklist (starred review)
“Hannah’s just getting started . . . With his keen eye for Florida and its unique cast of characters, even man’s man White should have no trouble investing her with a voice all her own.” ––Tampa Tribune
“Wanted: Gorgeous island woman who is also a fishing guide and a part-time private eye. What’s not to love?... Looks to be a successful entry to the genre.” ––Florida Times-Union
“Hannah is more fully realized, self-sufficient and smart, and her deep knowledge of the island community is an integral part of the story. No wonder Doc digs her.”––Tampa Bay Times
“[An] entertaining crime thriller . . . White’s evocative descriptions of life on Florida’s Gulf Coast, both human and animal, win this series its rightful place in the ever-popular Florida crime fiction genre.”—Publishers Weekly
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