It’s fun, don’t you think, to read a book set in a place where you are. I walked through the Fort Myers (Florida) airport the other day and saw an author standing at a table trying to sell books to people in a hurry.
As an author, I immediately felt empathy for him. I had to see what he wrote. Once I saw his detective novels were set in Sanibel, I had to get one. I picked his newest, one with a female main character.
I’m almost a regular to this part of southwest Florida. I have my favorite beaches, bars and restaurants in Fort Myers, Sanibel and Captiva. I know Periwinkle Way and Ding Darling nature preserve.
I’ve read books by two other authors based in this area. Randy Wayne White writes the Doc Ford detective stories and runs a chain of restaurants named for his famous character. After reading Christine Lemmon’s sand- and sun-filled stories from the same area, I had to talk to her. She writes women’s fiction, including the wonderful Portion of the Sea with a bit of Sanibel history. I’ve read everything she wrote and keep looking for her next. Christine, if you’re listening, let me know…
On this visit, I needed another Sanibel-based book so I was delighted to find this witty, contemporary thriller, The Dame with the Sanibel Sunset Detective, by Ron Base.
Ron Base, a longtime journalist who now splits his time between Fort Myers and Milton, Ontario starts his book with a quote from Donald J. Trump. Yeah. I almost put the book down and thought I’d read enough.
I’m glad I didn’t.
The book is filled with current events: snippets from CNN and NPR as if they are playing in the background. It follows the wife of the Sanibel Sunset Detective (the main character of earlier books) as she looks for answers on a case while her husband is in the hospital. He’s, of course, recovering from a gunshot wound.
It’s not only a fun detective romp with a surprisingly high body count for Sanibel, it’s got some fun local details and some great lines. Here’s one of my favorites.
“There appear to be a fair number of guns in your life, Ms. Stayner.”
“What can I say? We live in South Florida.”
The story has Russians and drug dealers, an uneasy relationship between private eye and the local cops and plenty of colorful figures—just what you expect from a detective story. It sounds a little like Raymond Chandler but satisfies as a beach read.
Thinking I’ll have to get another one of Base’s books, learn more about this Sanibel Sunset Detective.
Ⓒ Text and photo Mary K. Tilghman