Gone

byRandy Wayne White

Paperback | August 6, 2013

Gone by Randy Wayne White
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about

New York Times bestselling author Randy Wayne White introduces Hannah Smith—a lady with the heart and courage to take on the world…

Hannah Smith is a tall, strong, formidable Florida woman, the descendant of generations of strong Florida women. She makes her living as a fishing guide, but her friends, neighbors, and clients also know her as an uncommonly resourceful woman with a keen sense of justice, as someone who can’t be bullied—and they have taken to coming to her with their problems.

Her methods can be unorthodox, though, and those on the receiving end of them often wind up very unhappy—and sometimes very violent. When a girl goes missing, and Hannah is asked to find her, that is exactly what happens…
RANDY WAYNE WHITE is the author of the Doc Ford novels, five nonfiction collections, and a cookbook. He was a light-tackle fishing guide on Sanibel Island for thirteen years, and a monthly columnist for Outside magazine. He lives and works on Sanibel Island, Florida
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Title:GoneFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:336 pages, 7.5 X 4.3 X 0.84 inShipping dimensions:336 pages, 7.5 X 4.3 X 0.84 inPublished:August 6, 2013Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0425261298

ISBN - 13:9780425261293

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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Read from the Book

 WHEN LIGHTNING ZAPPED THE WATER A MILE FROM THE boat, my fishing client, Lawrence Seasons, looked at me surprised as a child, and the fly rod went sailing from his hands.“I felt that, Hannah!” he said, meaning the shock. His line had been in the water, connected to a six-foot tarpon that had just jumped, scales bright as ice against purple clouds that held rain.I told the man, “I bet you did,” and lunged after the rod skittering across the deck. Just before it flew overboard, I caught the reel, locked my fingers over the spool, and pulled until the barbless hook I was using set the fish free, which the tarpon confirmed with another greyhound jump. The breeze blowing off the water was suddenly chilly, I noticed, sweet with ozone and electricity.“We’ve got to go, folks!” I said for the second time in the last few minutes. “Grab your seats, try to stay low.” I was taking fishing rods from their vertical holders, storing them flat on the deck.“My first tarpon,” Mr. Seasons said, sounding dazed and a little sad. He was flexing his fingers to see if they still worked, or maybe to remind me that dropping expensive gear wasn’t an everyday occurrence for him.I told him, “You did a fine job, sir,” which seemed to cover all the bases, and then hustled behind the wheel to start the engine. For more than an hour, I’d been watching thermals build over the Florida mainland, which is normal on a June afternoon. But when the breeze suddenly wilted, air dense as lacquer, I knew it was time to move. Trouble was, only minutes before, Mr. Seasons had finally hooked a big tarpon on a fly rod, after years of trying, so I’d waited longer than I should’ve to make the decision. Now if things didn’t go smoothly, my clients and I might get soaked—or worse. From what I could see, hear, and smell, the odds weren’t in our favor. The storm was moving fast, towing a mountain of black clouds, and my small boat is as open and flat as an upside-down iron. A “flats skiff,” as the design is known by saltwater anglers.I called, “Hang on!” and pushed the throttle forward, then touched the trim switches, accelerating, and soon we were riding, flat and dry, the storm right on our tail.For the next several minutes, no one spoke, while I slalomed through a snarl of oyster bars, electricity sizzling behind us. Then I opened the throttle wider as the wind chased us toward the Gulf of Mexico, where, I could now see, a second squall was angling to intercept us.Mr. Seasons spotted the squall, too. I could tell by the worried look on his face. Having a client who has fished the Gulf Coast for many years is usually a good thing, but there are disadvantages. I tried to reassure him by raising my voice over the noise of the wind. “We’ll cut north in a minute or two. That’ll put us in the clear.”“On a low tide?” he replied. “I don’t know of any channels within a mile—”“I do,” I interrupted, but not in a sharp way. I wanted the man to stay calm, and not upset the woman he’d brought as his guest, Ms. Calder-Shaun, a New York attorney. She was an attractive woman, even beautiful, although starched and plainspoken, but not used to small boats and big water, which I’d realized right away. She sat to my right, Mr. Seasons to my left, both of them gripping their seats as if on a toboggan that had hit a patch of ice.“But, Captain,” the man said, being formal to show his concern, “risk running aground in a storm? We don’t mind getting wet. If it’s safer to stay in deep water, why not—”At that instant, there was a metallic buzz, then KA-BOOM!, an explosion so close it seemed to lift the hull off the water and suck the air from around us.“Christ A’mighty!” the woman yelled, “Shut up, Larry, and let Hannah drive the damn boat!”Beside me, Mr. Seasons sat back, a resigned look on his face, and I knew if I didn’t take his advice and got us stuck in shallow water, he would never charter me again. I didn’t blame him. Wealthy fishing clients aren’t easy to come by, so the temptation was to play safe and do what he’d suggested. But then I reminded myself that playing it safe wasn’t safe because the storm behind us was crackling with high voltage, and the storm angling from the southeast was a wall of gray smoke, more lightning and rain.“Up ahead,” I said as if being conversational, “there’s a little cut mullet fishermen call ‘Hole-in-the-Wall.’ Since you’ve got a boat of your own, I’ve been wanting to show you—and I can’t think of a better time.”I’d been sitting because of the lightning, but now I stood to get a better view and to concentrate on what I was doing. My boat is small, but it’s fast. I’d bought it used off a local marine biologist who’d rigged the thing with lights, electronics, and an oversized engine you wouldn’t expect from a man who is bookish in his ways. The biologist had hinted that the boat would do sixty miles an hour in calf-deep water—power I thought I’d never need unless I was stupid enough to get caught by a storm. Now it had happened.“Hang tight,” I said again, and punched the throttle, which caused my head to jolt back in an unexpected way. Soon my eyes were tearing, vision fluttering because of speed and washboard waves. It took some effort to check engine gauges that confirmed oil and water pressure were just fine, with plenty of throttle left if needed.Doing forty-plus, we dodged hedges of mangroves where pelicans roosted on leeward branches, then crossed a channel into water so shallow that white herons flushed ahead of us, a flock of spoonbills, too, feathers pink as rose petals in the storm-bruised light. Normally, I would have turned southwest, toward the main channel. But the storm was already there, picking up speed, dragging tentacles of rain across Sanibel Island. So I turned north toward what looked like a shard of mainland, it was so tightly joined by swamp and trees. From Mr. Seasons’s expression, I could tell he was spooked and confused.“Hole-in-the-Wall,” I said, pointing. “You won’t see it until we’re on it.” Twice, I had to repeat myself because thunder boomed behind us, a series of trip-mine explosions.“That’s all oysters and sandbars,” my client argued, sounding more nervous when he finally understood. “You mean, where those birds are standing?”It was true, there were hundreds of gulls and terns hunkered together in an inch of water, creating a line that fringed the island.“No, sir,” I replied. “The spot where you don’t see birds—that’s where we’re headed.”The man muttered something and got a fresh grip on his seat. To my right, Ms. Calder-Shaun sat with eyes closed, then surprised me by wrapping her arm around my leg. Something like that had never happened to me on a fishing charter, but I didn’t mind. She was scared, we were the only women on the boat, and I was a little scared myself.When we were fifty yards from what looked like a wall of mangrove trees, I prepared them for what happened next. “You might feel us bump bottom,” I hollered, pleased by how steady my voice sounded. “The engine’s gonna scream, but don’t let it worry you. We’ll make it.”We did make it, skating over two sandbars, my engine geysering water into a cloud of yapping birds before I got the boat trimmed, then steered us through an opening in the trees not much wider than my skiff.What a change those few seconds made! We exited the storm into a river of glassy water, branches creating a tunnel of silence and shadows that rocked in our wake as we boiled past. I followed the tunnel to the left . . . to the right . . . carving a series of S turns as if on a country road. Then we broke free of the trees, after jumping one last bar, and the sun cleared the towering clouds at the same instant, so it was like the storm had never existed. I knew better, of course. We couldn’t dally because the clouds were still chasing us, fast as a freight train. But the tricky part was over.Beside me, I heard Ms. Calder-Shaun say, “How exciting!” to cover her embarrassment and give her an excuse to remove her arm from my leg. Mr. Seasons was staring at me in the way wealthy people sometimes do when appraising an employee, his eyes penetrating and as unemotional as a calculator. Now was not the time to say anything boastful, I decided, but it was tempting.Instead, I pointed to a ridge of oysters exposed by the low tide. Marking the bar were six plastic milk bottles tied to stakes. “That’s the old Mail Boat Channel,” I said. “Used to be, there weren’t roads or bridges to the islands, so one of the captains delivered mail twice a week. Not many folks use this cut anymore.”“Who maintains it?” the man asked, but I got the impression he was more interested in me than the answer.“I never figured that one out. Mullet fishermen don’t need the markers, so it must be part-timers. Something nice is, every Christmas someone sticks a casuarina pine on that bar and decorates it with seashells and stuff. To me, it doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve stopped and hung a shell on that tree.”Mr. Seasons said to Ms. Calder-Shaun, talking over my lap, “Hannah comes from an ol

Editorial Reviews

“After nineteen…adventures starring…Doc Ford, White introduces a heroine who’s just as stubborn and capable and even more appealing.”—Kirkus Reviews“A plot that crackles with the electricity of a Florida thunderstorm.”—P. J. Parrish, author of the New York Times bestselling Louis Kincaid thrillers“[Randy Wayne White] raises the bar of the action thriller.”—The Miami Herald