Deep Shadow

[Amazon Link]

Number 17 in Randy Wayne White's "Doc Ford" series. If you look over at Amazon, you'll see that a number of readers were unimpressed, but I liked it quite a bit, sue me. The premise is ludicrous, but if I stopped reading books with ludicrous premises, I would eliminate a lot of items in my TBR pile. Which might be good, but I'd also have a lot less fun.

The story is that one of Doc's Dinkins Bay acquaintences, cantankerous Arlis Futch, thinks he has a lead on Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista's lost "treasure plane", which was rumored to contain vast riches looted from the Cuban treasury, and vanished on its way off the island in 1959: could it have crashed in a small inland Florida lake? Futch thinks it's likely enough to purchase the lake and the surrounding land. He enlists SCUBA-skilled Doc to go exploring, and they bring along Doc's hippie friend Tomlinson, and the Native American/juvenile delinquent introduced in the previous book, Will Chaser.

Multiple disasters strike: the lake is unexpectedly delicate, and a catastrophic underwater avalanche traps Tomlinson and Will with their dwindling air supply.

In addition, a couple of ex-cons, fresh off a robbery/murder/rape spree, just happen to encounter the lake at the same time. They are desperate and violent, but also greedy. So Doc has serious problems above-water as well.

Could it get worse? Yes it could: the area is legendary for harboring a great, mysterious beast. Much worse than your average Florida snakes, gators, and crocs. That legend turns out to true enough to menace both the good guys and bad.

It's too long, a very common malady among contractually-obligated popular novelists. But you'll learn a lot about Florida lake geology, so that's a plus. I'm very fond of the Will Chaser character, and I hope to see him again. Final quibble: I would have liked to see a map, because I got kind of lost relying solely on text descriptions of the complex geography.

The Phony Campaign

2015-01-18 Update

[phony baloney]

Mitt jumped into a huge phony lead this week. It could be due to people dusting off their old pages from 2012 and 2008:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2015-01-11
"Mitt Romney" phony 6,880,000 +6,575,000
"Jeb Bush" phony 535,000 -12,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 389,000 +5,000
"Rand Paul" phony 164,000 +6,000
"Chris Christie" phony 123,000 ---
"Elizabeth Warren" phony 93,800 +200
"Marco Rubio" phony 83,100 -3,300
"Scott Walker" phony 74,600 +3,000

… or it could be one of those oddball transient Google Glitches. We'll see.

  • At The Week, Mark Ambinder laid out the positioning strategies for each of the GOP "mainstream" candidates, Jeb, Mitt, and Chris. For Jeb:

    Bush hopes that voters much prefer a real human with conservative instincts than a phony conservative with occasional flashes of human-ness. He will risk losing the primary to win the general election.

    Implied: Mitt and Chris are big phonies. I think this means phoniness will be a trending issue in the coming months. Good news for us!

  • At the left-wing Mother Jones, David Corn detailed the intertwinings between Mitt's business and politics, as exemplified by Solamere Capital, run by son Tagg Romney, with which Mitt has been more actively involved post-2012.

    It gets pretty far-fetched at times:

    One of Solamere's initial investments was in a North Carolina financial-services firm operated by former officials of a financial company run by Allen Stanford, who was later convicted of running a massive Ponzi scheme. These officials had come from the Charlotte office of the Stanford Financial Group, which had been closed by the feds for selling phony certificates of deposit.

    Note there's no claim that the "former officials" did anything wrong; they just once worked for a guy that did. And Corn is quick to deploy the usual bullshit clichés about Romney's investments in companies that "downsized and shifted jobs overseas".

    On the other hand, Corn's article does illuminate the ease with which financial success comes to the politically well-connected. (And to his credit, he has in the past noted Hillary's comfy crony capitalist ties as well.)

  • Speaking of Hillary, America Rising PAC examined her "Phony Populism On Free Trade" shortly before the elections:

    A peculiar thing happens every time Hillary Clinton decides to run for President; her views on free trade start sliding left and she calls for a “time out” on free trade agreements. We can only assume that the campaign for Gary Peters (D-MI) saw this and figured she would make the perfect surrogate for him. After all, Peters voted against every trade agreement that came up for a vote during his time in Congress and opposes attempts to give President Obama trade promotion authority. Even those Hillary Clinton backed as Secretary of State.

    America Rising PAC is dedicated to opposition research on Democrats, hiring "trackers" who "attempt to shoot video of every single public utterance the candidates' make, in hopes of catching gaffes and flip-flops and collecting an archive that can be mined for hypocrisy and errors." Sounds as if they could be a rich source for us over the coming campaign season.

  • For example, news of (a real actual thing): Hillary: The Coloring Book caused them to imagine its "missing pages", for example:

    [wat dif?]

    Seems as if they might have a sense of humor.