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

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  2,441 ratings  ·  191 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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Ten Thousand Islands by Randy Wayne WhiteTampa Burn by Randy Wayne WhiteCape Fear by John D. MacDonaldShark River by Randy Wayne WhiteSanibel Flats by Randy Wayne White
Sandman's Florida Authors List
5th out of 101 books — 15 voters
Stormy Weather by Carl HiaasenTourist Season by Carl HiaasenBasket Case by Carl HiaasenThe Deep Blue Good-By by John D. MacDonaldThe Designated Survivor by J.C. Gatlin
Florida Mystery/Thrillers
47th out of 114 books — 51 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
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
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
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
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...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
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...more
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...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...more
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...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.
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...more
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
Tmbull
Nov 04, 2010 Tmbull added it
love all his books!
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...more
Doreen Fritz
Maybe it was the fact that I was in and around Sanibel Island when I started reading this that appealed to me. (Kind of like reading books set in Chicago -- it's fun to match places in the book to actual locations.) Maybe it was because my husband had dived into the series a week or two earlier and wouldn't stop raving. Maybe it was because the author had a book-signing the day after we arrived at Sanibel, so we met him and bought his newest book. But I was predisposed to enjoy this mystery. The...more
Kathleen Hagen
Sanibel Flats, by Randy Wayne White. B-plus
This is the first Doc Ford book. It takes place in Florida. Doc Ford has retired from his work as some kind of government agent. He has come back to live in his boyhood Florida haunts, on Sanibel Island. His boyhood friend calls him out of the blue and asks for his help in rescuing his son. Ford agrees to meet his friend, but when he arrives at their meeting place, he finds his friend’s body hanging with vultures all over it. He tries to convince the sh...more
Col
Synopsis:

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 dispensing advice to the locals over a cold beer lulled him into letting his guard down.Then Rafe Hollins appeared.H...more
Cap'n Bobby
"Sanibel Flats" by Randy Wayne White I give 4 stars to. It's a good book, a very good representative of the crime genre, that is not without flaws. First, what I liked or loved about the book. White is very talented at creating a sense of place, Dinkins Bay, Doc Ford's stilt house on the water, the life of the marina. White beautifully captures life in a beach town/fishing village on the Gulf coast of FLA. If you love FLA, that's a reason in itself to read this yarn.

Second, White also creates in...more
Christopher Lynnes
Except for the end, when things were tied up a bit too prettily, the book was engaging and unusual. The hero is a scientist (marine biology), which is unusual in an action mystery thriller, and his sidekick is decidedly offbeat. The socialist revolutionary is a particular hoot. But I admit that a lot of my affection for the book is colored by its familiarity in setting: southwestern Florida and Central America in the 1980's. I don't run across many books with that combination.
Miriam
In his first adventure, Doc Ford deals with emeralds, archaeological artifact smugglers, Central American revolutionaries, and oh yes, fish. It's a good start to the series full of twists, turns, and not too much violence. Definitely read the books in order.
Rod Read
First book in the Doc Ford series. Sets up the main and some of the support characters up with good descriptions. Didn't care for the plot. Would be ok to read if you're interested in getting to know the characters for future books in the series.
Dennis
May 24, 2014 Dennis added it
I liked The Man Who Invented Florida so much I decided to read another Doc Ford book, however it did not fit my purpose to enhance my trip to Florida. That's because most of the book takes place Central America. This was still a fun read.
Jennifer
My father had been recommending Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford series to me for quite some time and I finally decided to give White a try. Superb writing and excellent characters, it goes to show that I am never too old to listen to my father. I am looking forward to the next book in the Doc Ford series.
Don
Good writing. A page turner. A thriller about a former intelligence officer of some kind going back to the fictitious country of Massagua to rescue a friend's kidnapped son. Story was straightforward with a few odd twists. Maybe a bit contrived at times.
Margaret
I shame my Doc Ford loving family, but I just didn't get this book. As a life long Sanibel visitor I have heard about these books, eaten in Doc Ford's Rum Bar, and met Randy Wayne White. I figured I would finally get around to start reading this book. Imagine my disappointment when I just couldn't get into this book. The plot meanders along and it was hard to figure out what the focus of the book was. Is it the kidnapping of the child by Central American terrorists, the murder of a friend, or le...more
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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...more
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