Long running series about marine biologist Marion “Doc” Ford. He’s a former NSA operative and is based in Sanibel Island, Florida trying to come down from the tension of the past ten years. The latest one is “Night Visions” (2011). This is the first book in the series:
Doc is settled into his new life until his best friend from high school, Rafe Hollins calls. He’s in trouble. Some people are after him. They owed him money that they haven’t paid so he stole something of theirs. He’s not saying what that is.
Rafe has divorced his wife Helen who was having affairs with almost anyone who passed by. They have an eight year old son Jake. Rafe grabbed him and took him to Costa Rica where they were both happy. That’s until Jake was kidnapped by guerillas.
Rafe asks Doc to meet him on Tequesta Bank where they used to go when they were on the high school football team to drink and party. Doc sees some vultures and then discovers Rafe’s body hanging from a tree. He’s not buying that it’s suicide.
He discovers a tin box and takes it with him. It includes some money, an address book and some emeralds. Later Doc finds out that there was a rush job in Rafe’s cremation and his death was declared a suicide.
A gang of crooks runs a development called Sealife. Doc thinks they’re involved in smuggling Mayan artifacts from Masagua, Central America. Doc was assigned there before being replaced. He had a relationship with the president of Masagua’s wife.
Now the president has been assasinated and his generals are taking over. Guerrilla bands in the hills may take the opportunity to attack. That’s the situation Doc runs into as he tries to find Jake.
Along with him is Tomlinson, a friend from Sanibel. He’s a strange character. A Harvard grad and an expert on the Mayans. He lives the life of a free spirit. He tells Doc about a rare Mayan book. Doc doesn’t tell him but he and Pilar, the president’s wife, hid it.
Doc and Tomlinson go to Juan Rivera’s rebel camp in the mountains. Rivera is a baseball nut and before conducting any business everyone has to play a game with Rivera pitching and Doc catching. On a previous visit Doc got them uniforms.
Jake is held prisoner by the Silver Path led by Julio Zacul. He’s known for committing atrocities. They’re rivals of Rivera. Doc and Tomlinson go to find them. Some of Zacul’s soldiers find them first.
The book is an excellent read and a great start to the series. The Tomlinson character is an interesting blend of hippie and intellectual. To Doc he can also be very annoying. If you’re looking for a crime series to explore start with this first in the series and you may find yourself hunting down the others.