Baja Florida Review
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Right now, if I were to look through the blinds on my office window, I’d see a whole lot of white. There’s white stuff coating the ground—and there are little white flakes floating through the sky. As is often the case this time of year, the sun hasn’t broken through the clouds in what feels like weeks. Still, it may be cold and dreary outside—but, thanks to author Bob Morris, a tropical getaway is just a bookshelf away.

As Baja Florida opens, former football player turned palm tree salesman Zack Chasteen is enjoying another sunny afternoon in his own little corner of Florida when he gets an unexpected visit from his old friend, Mickey Ryser. Under normal circumstances, Zack and Mickey would have sat on the porch and enjoyed a drink or two together, but Mickey’s strength is failing. He doesn’t have long to live—and he’s come to ask Zack for one last favor.

Mickey has decided to spend the rest of his life on his private island paradise. And before he dies, he wants to see his daughter, Jen—whom he hasn’t seen since she was just a toddler. She’s currently sailing the Atlantic with a few friends, and Mickey wants Zack to find Jen and bring her to meet him at his home on Lady Cut Cay.

The problem, however, is that Jen has disappeared—as has the detective whom Mickey hired to find her. So, as a favor to his old friend, Zack calls in his friend, Boggy, leaves his wife and baby daughter behind, and sets out for the Bahamas, to find Jen before Mickey’s time runs out.

Baja Florida is the perfect read for a snowy afternoon—or a relaxing afternoon by the pool, for that matter. Though Zack’s adventures often take him to the seedier parts of the Bahamas (as opposed to the upscale resorts), the tropical island setting—with its island bars and busy marinas—still gives the story a warm and breezy feel.

The mystery, too, is easy-going and enjoyable. While the story has its share of action and suspense, Morris mixes Jen’s story in with Zack’s, so you’ll get an idea of where she might be—and whom she’s with. So while there are some twists and turns along the way, they aren’t necessarily unexpected—but they’re interesting nonetheless.

Though Morris is well into his Zack Chasteen series (this is his fifth installment), Baja Florida can still stand on its own. While it’s clear that various characters have made an appearance in the series before, newcomers (like me) won’t feel lost or confused. Instead, you’ll get to know the characters as you read. By the end of the book, they may not feel like old friends, but they’ll probably feel like new friends—even Boggy, an especially eccentric character, who might take a while to grow on you.

So if you can’t afford a tropical vacation, try visiting Baja Florida instead. Though its pages are filled with mystery, murder, and deceit, it’s still an enjoyably laid-back read.

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