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Sanibel Flats (Doc Ford, #1)
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Sanibel Flats (Doc Ford Mystery #1)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  3,064 ratings  ·  238 reviews

Its cool gulf breezes lured him from a life of danger. Its dark undercurrents threatened to destroy him.

After ten years of living life on the edge, it was hard for Doc Ford to get that addiction to danger out of his system. But spending each day watching the sun melt into Dinkins Bay and the moon rise over the mangrove trees, cooking dinner for his beautiful neighbor, and

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Hardcover, 307 pages
Published March 28th 1990 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1990)
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Cape Fear by John D. MacDonaldTen Thousand Islands by Randy Wayne WhiteTampa Burn by Randy Wayne WhiteShark River by Randy Wayne WhiteThe Deep Blue Good-By by John D. MacDonald
Sandman's Florida Authors List
6th out of 126 books — 20 voters
Stormy Weather by Carl HiaasenTourist Season by Carl HiaasenThe Deep Blue Good-By by John D. MacDonaldBasket Case by Carl HiaasenThe Designated Survivor by J.C. Gatlin
Florida Mystery/Thrillers
37th out of 127 books — 66 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Colleen
What a disappointing all-around mess. Having recently spent a week on Sanibel Island and eaten many times at Randy Wayne White's restaurant, Doc Ford's, I was excited about reading this book. The story, first and foremost, was borrrrriiiing. I plodded through it, thinking, is this over yet? My next problem is that there wasn't much of a plot. It wasn't compelling and it didn't flow well at all. What little plot there was was also unbelievable. Doc Ford and his goofy sidekick, Tomlinson, can sing ...more
Howard White
The first of the Doc Ford mystery novels, but not necessarily the best of the, roughly, 15 Ford titles currently in print. Great summer reading (or for that matter, fall, winter, and spring, too). the novels center on the eponymous Doc Ford, marine biologist living on Dinkin's Bay (a thinly disguised Tarpon Bay) on Sanibel Island, Florida. Ford, a retired CIA operative, and a group of supporting characters including, most notably, his friend Tomlinson, spiritualist/recreational drug user ala Car ...more
Richard Katz
I am really enthusisatic about Sanibel Flats and am aleady well into my second Doc Ford adventure as I write this review. Why did no one tell me of Randy Wayne White before? A real combination of the great atmospheric writing of James Lee Burke, the high international adventure of Clive Cussler, and the humor of Carl Hiassen. What a combo! Doc White and his side kick Tomlinson are two of the most endearing fictional characters. Tomlinson, of course, evokes Hiassen's Skink, who is in a class by h ...more
Elissajeanne boise
doc ford is my ideal man. i would want to be his woman did i not possess the certainty that i would end up dead or estranged. he's badder than bourne, sexier than dirk pitt, and as smart as pendergast. the dynamic between he and tomlinson grows richer and more bizarre with every book. these are men everyone would benefit from meeting. i know they're make believe but somewhere there exists persons after who these characters were modeled and i'd like to know them in a biblical sense. this series m ...more
Lee
The first in White's, long running "Doc Ford" series. Here is another interesting and unique character. Looking like a beach bum, helpful neighbor, with a good ear for listening... then you find out later in the book, he's not what he seemed in the beginning. Quite a bit of history/science in some fish species, but didn't overwhelm me. I'm hoping his friend and neighbor, Tomlinson, who's an 'ol stoner type dude, that just happened to study at Harvard....stays in the picture. Fun, mystery/thrille ...more
Mara Purl
Discovered Randy Wayne White (if you say his name fast, you sound like Mr. McGoo) on a recent trip to Florida. His descriptors are so original that he truly owns his location and makes it vibrate into reality. Excellent protagonist, perfectly irritating antagonist, scary plot. A lot of biological, scientific detail, too much for some, but again, he owns his subject. I listened to the excellent audio version and am signing up for the next in his series.
Kathryn Bain
This is the second Randy Wayne White book I've read. Again, I feel he overdoes the history and biology lessons. Some people might like that, I don't.

It took until they got to the village before I really got interested in the book. I wanted to know if they got the kid out alive. That's why I gave it a 3 rating.

However, the women only showed up in this book to tell Doc Ford how attractive he was and to have sex with him. They were all very one dimentional. It seemed to be that way with the first
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Julia DeBarrioz
I really enjoyed this book, it was pretty much a dream line-up of plot elements: a secret agent (even if retired), south florida, central america, mayan history, revolutionaries, marine biology, and even a little painting.

I found it to be well written, and the twist at the end surprised me, which these days doesn't happen often. Doc Ford is a likeable character, super smart, funny, interesting, and the descriptions of Sanibel and sea life are wonderful. A++!

*On a side note, which has nothing to
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Phair
I happened across Doc Ford around the time Dick Francis announced his retirement from writing (c2000). Randy Wayne White seemed to have the "Dick Francis feel" to his books- the decent, stoically suffering hero and the way of presenting interesting information about various topics within a cracking good story. Can't now recall the first one I read but I immediately went back to #1 and caught up fast!

In 2005 I suggested Sanibel for a f2f mystery discussion group. It held up well as a re-read fo
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Dennis D.
I’ve had this book, or this series rather, on my list of things to read for so long, I don’t even remember who recommended it to me. It’s been on my list since before I even kept an actual list. My wife used to tease me about my Spreadsheet of Suggested Reading (no, it wasn’t really called that. I’m not that OCD), back in the days before GoodReads.

I was in the mood for a mystery/thriller, and wanted to check out something new. This book is the first in a series featuring author Randy Wayne Whit
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Jim A
It’s been quite a few years since I originally read this novel. I had become bored with the Doc Ford of the most recent novels and I decided to go back to White’s first Doc Ford novel to see if what drew me to the series in the first place was still valid. The answer was a resounding YES. An action thriller that portrays the protagonist as an everyday, workaday, person with special skills.

I miss White intertwining Ford’s occupation as a marine biologist with his occasional forays into adventure
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Susan Coster
First of all, a big shout out to Sherri for the book! This was my first Randy Wayne White novel. I have been visiting Sanibel since the 1970's, so I naturally thought there would be more SANIBEL in the book, thus the title. However, most of the action takes place in Central America. Doc Ford is the main character, a marine biologist who does a bit of reconnaissance work on the side or as necessary, but his roots always take him back to his Sanibel home, where he lives the simple life......Ahhhhh ...more
Cathy DuPont
Happened to pick this up at used book store and it's the best $2 I've ever spent. Loved, just loved the book. When I find a writer I love, I tend to read everything they've written and this happened with RWW. Read them all (Doc Ford) and follow him like a groupie. Have also read his six books under Striker and enjoyed them as well, although they're not as 'polished' as the Doc Ford series. Doc Ford and Tomlinson are quite a pair and balance each other in a good, unique and fun way. White's descr ...more
Kathy
I'm embarrassed as a Parrot Head, Florida Keys lover and as someone who's read all the Travis McGee novels that it's taken me this long to start reading Randy Wayne White.

What the heck was I waiting for?

Doc Ford is a retired spook who has moved back home to Sanibel Island, Florida to start a business supplying schools with preserved sea creatures for dissection. Sounds like a decent life and Doc is enjoying until he gets a call from an old high school buddy who's son has been kidnapped by some b
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Brendy Bou
I enjoy the character development in these books. The setting is where I will perhaps spend much of my retirement days, and I'd love to meet up with a "Doc Ford" in the area! ;-) He is intelligent, loves great music, and extremely intelligent balanced with a kind heart.
I may read all of Randy Wayne White books in the future. Fun and exciting.
Robert
This is a real fun novel with a lot to offer. What starts off as somewhat of a mystery novel soon turns into an action/thriller type of novel. There are some great characters in this one also. Doc Ford the main character is introduced to the reader and develops as the novel progresses into quite a bit more than the reader is shown at the beginning. There is one character, Tomlinson, that is Ford's neighbor, that I hope to see more of in the other novels in the series. Tomlinson is a stoner from ...more
Kerri
This series was highly recommended to me by a friend (male). I was really excited to read it because it is about Sanibel Island, a place near and dear to my heart.

I did like that it talked about the real restaurants/roads/landmarks from the island in the book. And the story line was ok, but this author went way into detail about fishing and science and 'guy stuff' that made it really boring to me. I never really got into it and needless to say never read any more of the series.
Patricia
We first meet Doc Ford, in this first book of Randy Wayne White’s eponymously named series, as he emerges naked, but for his Nikes, from an underground tunnel across from the Presidential Palace in Masagua, Central America. Doc is only a few steps ahead of palace security, which has chased him from the bedroom of the President’s wife. However, their tryst was no mere dalliance. In fact, it was only the first in a five-year relationship that had slowly changed past friendship into love.

And it was
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Lloyd
Sep 13, 2012 Lloyd added it
One of the better books of this series. Sanibel Flats has a depth that shows the time the author puts into the work that sadly visibly slips in some of the later titles of the Doc Ford series.
This, Shark River, Tampa Burn, the Man Who Sold Florida, all of the early stuff are great, and really show that White knows his subject and area.
Randy Wayne White had been a fishing guide along the Florida west coast and it shows!
Chris Bauer
For this past Spring Break vacation I took the family to Sanibel Island, Florida to get away from the horrific Midwest winter. The trip was nice, the island was beautiful and we enjoyed ourselves. One of the restaurants we visited was "Doc Ford's" on the island. The name was familiar to me and I learned that the owner of the place is none other than Randy Wayne White, author of the Doc Ford series. Duh!

I read one of his books in the past and remember liking it, but it was a casual pickup in airp
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Ed
#1 in the Doc Ford series.

Doc Ford quits government service in Central American Masagua and retires to the life of a marine biologist on Sanibel Island, FL. His high school friend Rafe Hollins draws him back into a life of intrigue when he tells Doc that his 8 year old son has been kidnapped by Masaguan guerillas. After Rafe is found hung, Doc and Tomlinson travel to Masagua.
Julie
This book took me forever to finish and that makes it hard to write a review because the beginning seems too faraway. I saw the author speak a few weeks ago and he was an engaging speaker with endearing anecdotes to share. So I am going to cut this book some slack because this was his first in a long successful series. Doc Ford is the man who drives this story. He is a man's man in tune with the rugged underbelly of the sea, former secret operative, and he has a arduous love life. To talk about ...more
Sherri F.
May 24, 2015 Sherri F. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of gritty, action-packed, well-plotted adventures, mystries and thrillers
Recommended to Sherri by: My local library preference match
This is the 1st book in the Doc Ford series and a real good start. I read his first in the Dusky McMorgan series, too. The author prefers this series and writing, and in many ways it is. This one is more detailed, descriptive and more mature writing, but I like the faster pace for the McMorgan book a little more. They also have similarities and both are real good though. (Where that one was a 4 to 4.25 stars, this one prob more like 3.76 to 4 stars)

In this one, Rafe Hollins, a good high school f
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Keith
This was a fun read. In addition to the adventures with the unscrupulous business men and central American revolutionary gorillas, I enjoyed the marine biology references, description of the tropical jungles, and life on the fringes on Florida.
I am looking forward to reading other Doc Ford stories by Randy Wayne White.
Dee Mills
Feb 27, 2015 Dee Mills marked it as to-read
Shelves: library-york, mystery
Successor to John McDonald's Travis McGee series. This is the first book in series and it's at York library in both book form and audio.
Susan
I read this during a week's vacation on Sanibel Island, and it held my interest enough.
Doc Ford leads us from the mangroves of Florida to Central America to rescue his
old friend's 8 year old boy. An interesting enough romp, but not enough Florida for
my tastes.
Favorite quote:
"I'm going with you. This is the chance of a lifetime, and you think I"m going to miss it?
My shot at being a bodhisattva...."
(one whose essence is enlightenment;
a being that compassionately refrains from entering nirvana in
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Mark Leta
Great to read the first Doc Ford novel and get a chunk of the origin story. The main characters Doc and Tomlinson seem intact from the beginning. White has good style and his books move along at a clip as they're fun to read. All of that is here at the start.

This story combines a good mix of action, adventure, intrigue, cool locales, marine biology and history (a lot of it bogus, but plausible and fun nevertheless). The only issue I could see was the author trying to take on a little too much in
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Kevin Lanahan
The book was recommended by a friend who heard I was going to Sanibel. The trip was long ago but I just got my hands on this book.

It was a good read. The plot had a couple of big holes in it and more than a couple of "yeah, sure" moments in it, but it was a good read. The book leaves lots of room for character development (Doc Ford is a bit like Mr Reese in "Person of Interest". Very mysterious, very calm and very dangerous).

I'd be inclined to read a couple more of these stories, just to see i
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Tmbull
Nov 04, 2010 Tmbull added it
love all his books!
Monica Lee
Doc Ford is a man’s man, as described by at least one reviewer.

Brilliant. Brave. Generally unemotional, even when blameless men are executed and fed to the sharks.

It is his amoral nature I object to. When he slept with two women in one night in Randy Wayne White’s debut novel in the Doc Ford series, Sanibel Flats, I was disgusted.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

This mystery features a complex and interesting plot, well-drawn characters and just enough violence to make it intense wi
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27932
aka Carl Ramm, Randy Striker

Randy Wayne White (born 1950) is an American writer of crime fiction and non-fiction adventure tales. He has written best-selling novels and has received awards for his fiction and a television documentary. He is best known for his series of crime novels featuring the retired NSA agent Doc Ford, a marine biologist living on the Gulf Coast of southern Florida. White has
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More about Randy Wayne White...

Other Books in the Series

Doc Ford Mystery (1 - 10 of 22 books)
  • The Heat Islands (Doc Ford, #2)
  • The Man Who Invented Florida
  • Captiva
  • North of Havana
  • The Mangrove Coast
  • Ten Thousand Islands
  • Shark River
  • Twelve Mile Limit
  • Everglades
  • Tampa Burn
Deep Shadow (Doc Ford, #17) Captiva The Heat Islands (Doc Ford, #2) Ten Thousand Islands The Man Who Invented Florida

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