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Baja Florida (Zack Chasteen Series) by Bob Morris
Review by Beth Slater
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312377267
Date: 19 January 2010 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK /

Chasteen is quite satisfied with his life. He's living in Florida in a remote area in the middle of a wilderness preservation area selling Sebago palms with his wife and beautiful daughter Shula, and he can go to the dock and have a beer and net shrimp for dinner every night if he likes. He's got money in the bank so what if it's in the Caymans just don't ask how it got there. That is, until his old friend Mickey Ryser shows up with a request. Had it been anyone else, Zack might have had second thoughts. But Mickey had been the one to teach him how to surf. How to hit on girls. How not to become a dopehead, or end up in jail for the rest of his life. Mickey was dying, and he wanted Zack to find his daughter.

All Zack knows is that Jen was supposed to be meeting Mickey in Lady Cut Cay. She was sailing down from Charleston in her new boat with some friends, but she gave Mickey no idea what kind of path she might be taking or when she might be arriving. Neither man has any idea what she might look like, since Mickey hasn't seen his daughter in 20 years, give or take. Ryser has a couple months to live, tops, and he's come to Zack as his last hope. The detective he'd hired, Abel Delgado, can't be found 10K of a deposit later. So Zack sets off to do what he does best, think on his feet and trust his luck.

Deciding that finding Delgado would be the fastest track to the most current information, Zack locates his office, with Boggy, his Taino companion. Finding all the pertinent information available there, they move on and wind up in the air with another old friend, Charlie Callahan. While getting the best of boat burglars, foiling fast fraudulent funding, and fleeing a frame-up in the Bahamas, the men manage to find clues to lead them to Jen's boat and crew members. When Ryser recalls them to the island to meet his daughter, they are surprised but happy the search is over. But Zack is not entirely convinced possibly because the Bahamian authorities still wanted to arrest him for murder.

OK not a cozy. A great, fun, love Florida read. If you love Jimmy Buffett, chances are good that you will like Zack Chasteen and like these books, because they are about the atmosphere of living here. Is there blood, guts, gore, and violence? Not really, but there's some violence because there has to be. Was it perfect? No. But Zack, in my opinion, is a difficult character to dislike and the stories are a great escape.

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