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Hell's Bay (Thorn Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – March 3, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: Thorn Mysteries (Book 8)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312944179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312944179
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.9 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,365,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Edgar-winner Hall (Magic City) puts a Southern gothic twist on his latest Florida thriller to feature his iconic hero, Key Largo beach bum Thorn. While helping old flame Rusty set up a houseboat deep in the Everglades as a fishing spot for tourists, Thorn becomes entangled in the intrigue surrounding the murder of Abigail Bates, a wealthy land and mine owner. Soon after, one of Rusty's first customers, John Milligan, confronts Thorn and claims to be Thorn's uncle, making him face old family secrets possibly connected to Bates's murder. Thorn's detective friend, Sugarman, at Thorn's request, starts making possibly dangerous inquiries into the crime. The appeal of this multilayered novel lies in the authenticity of its evocation of the Everglades, along with a slow-burning plot that kicks into high gear when Thorn and Rusty's guests, cut off from the outside world by sabotage, are hunted by Bates's killers. The result is another compulsive page-turner from a master of suspense. Author tour. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“James Hall’s writing is astringent, penetrating, and unfailingly gripping long after you read the last page. Explodes with the brilliance of chain lightning.”—Dean Koontz

“The king of the Florida-gothic noir.”—Dennis Lehane

“No writer working today…more clearly evokes the shadows and loss that hide within the human heart.”—Robert Crais

“James W. Hall’s lyrical passion for the Florida Keys, his spare language, and unusual images haunt us long after the story has faded.”—Sara Paretsky

“A master of suspense…James Hall’s prose runs as clean and fast as Gulf Stream waters.”—The New York Times Book Review

“James Hall is a writer I have learned from over the years. His people and places have more brush strokes than a van Gogh. He delivers taut and muscular stories about a place where evil always lurks beneath the surface.”—Michael Connelly

Customer Reviews

Hall's characterizations are amazingly fully developed and believable.
He keeps you on the edge of your seat, especially at the end, so you want to finish it rather than go to bed!!
Reader Rabbit
A good story that is both an action packed mystery and a lesson in character.
David Lowe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By TMStyles VINE VOICE on February 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
James W. Hall is at the top of my "must read list" and "Hell's Bay" justifies that position. It is the best novel I have read in a long time. Hall's characterizations are amazingly fully developed and believable. However, as always, he stunningly captures the sights, smells, and sounds of the Everglades and the Florida Keys to such an extent that the swamp almost becomes a physical character in the final confrontation and climax.

Hall's loner and iconic hero, Thorn, finally gets a full name and fleshed out identity in this installment. Daniel Oliver Thorn knew nothing of his family tree since his parents died in an auto accident on the way home from the hospital after his birth. Suddenly, John Milligan and his daughter Mona schedule a maiden fishing excursion on a new houseboat owned and outfitted by Thorn's former lover and pal, Rusty Stabler, who has convinced Thorn to serve as guide and first mate.

Thorn is shocked and frozen with conflicting emotions when informed that John is his long lost uncle and Mona his cousin. The man with no history beyond his personal memories suddenly discovers he is a scion of one of the wealthiest families in Florida and an heir to Bates International, a multi faceted and multi layered conglomerate perhaps most infamously known for its strip mining of phosphates in central Florida which has made it a hated entity by citizens and community alike--especially when a cancer cluster is identified in Summerland, site of a large gypsum stack thought to be carcinogenic.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Tirrell on April 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James W. Hall writes gritty outdoor adventure novels, usually set in Florida near or on the water. Hell's Bay is more of the same, and marks the return of hard-bitten hero Thorn, who signs on to be first mate aboard the first voyage of former lover and female fishing guide Rusty Stabler's new houseboat. The houseboat will act as a base for daily forays deep into virgin fishing grounds.

The first surprise comes when the client, whose name is Milligan, addresses Thorn by his full name, Daniel Oliver Thorn. Nobody knows his name. He's a Conch, and he has only one name; Thorn. Naturally, there are forces at work he does not understand, and soon he will play a major part in a game that began long before he agreed to make the trip with Rusty. A game that began with the question, "How long can you hold your breath?" and ended with the drowning death of one Abigail Bates, 85, principal shareholder and owner of Bates International, a huge multinational conglomerate.

Thorn is a careful man. He sends his detective friend Sugarman to investigate the activities of Bates International, but Abigail Bate's killer, a woman named Sasha, has already learned that the Milligans, who are next in line to succeed at Bates international, have chartered a houseboat to go fishing on Hell's Bay.

Sasha blames Bates for her husband's death from lung cancer, and her teenage son, just accepted to Yale with a full scholarship, is about to die from the same disease.
They have a motto: head of the snake. They know what needs to happen next, and they are prepared and more than capable of making it happen.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By nobizinfla on February 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
James W. Hall is masterful at creating villains.

It is not just that they never consider the moral consequences of their deeds, carry violence to an art form, create a combination of terror and tension---it is their "nothing to lose attitude" that is most frightening.

The fact that you know these people actually exist is genuinely terrifying. You sense them in real life, and cross the street to stay out of their path.

In Dr. Hall's latest Thorn novel, such a piece of work is Sasha Olson. Her outrage stems from the early death from cancer to her husband and the same disease ravaging her son. She blames it on Bates International who controls a gigantic phosphate strip mining operation in the middle of Florida.

Sasha's initial victim is the Bates International's family matriarch, Abigail Bates. Her preferred macabre method is death by drowning. Immediately before she places her prey under water she asks, "How long can you hold your breath?"

Abigail turns out to be Thorn's grandmother. Thorn's parents were killed in an auto accident shortly after he was born. He never knew about his family tree.

Thorn's uncle and his daughter appear to be clients on a fishing expedition where Thorn acts as a guide.

Sasha is on a mission to wipe out the Bates family. She haunts and hunts the family members deep in the remotest part of the Everglades. The outcome is in doubt until the final chapter.

The characters will hook you just as much as the plot that has as many twists as the Everglades. You just may want to sleep with light on after you experience "Hell's Bay."
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More About the Author

James W. Hall is the author of 18 novels, 14 of which feature Thorn, the off-the-grid loner who lives a primitive existence in Key Largo, Florida. Thorn and his friend Sugarman, an African-American PI, team up to solve exotic crimes from animal smuggling to piracy to kidnapping to espionage. He has won the Edgar Award and the Shamus and several of his novels have been optioned for film.

His most recent Thorn novel is The Big Finish (December 2014.)

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