Jim Hawkins, an everyman with a touch of the superman, recently discharged from the Army under hazy circumstances, just wants to settle in as the seasonal parking warden in the fictional—but I suspect not too fictional—northeastern vacation island of Nausset. Normally this would mean ticketing as many tourists as possible while keeping the rich kids safe so they can be preyed upon by the more and less corrupt businesses. Unfortunately, Hawkins’ unwavering integrity thrusts him in the middle of an escalating chain of events from refusing the usual grift to increasingly violent encounters…until he’s in the middle of a full-fledged murder mystery involving the richest (and craziest) of the island’s aristocracy, a development scheme gone awry, sexual trafficking and a psychotic island’s son.
Hawkins, the “white shark” of the title, is an indelible character, endearing in his own way, possessing an enviable internal code of conduct and a sly wit that elevates what could just be another indistinguishable, often unbelievable kind-of-P.I. thriller to something even more. Gresham’s prose style has a rhythm that took me a few chapters to settle into, but once I did that style—and his fine eye for creating an evocative setting—suspended any lingering disbelief. White Shark is an entertaining cocktail combining two parts Hiassen, one part Travis McGee and Gresham’s own unique style. I’m looking forward to the next round.