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Mean High Tide Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1995

3.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After a two-book hiatus, Thorn--the quixotic fly-tying Florida Keys protagonist of Under Cover of Daylight and Tropical Freeze --is back with a bang in Hall's fifth thriller. Darcy Richards, the love of Thorn's life and his assistant at best-buddy Sugarman's ragtag security agency, dies in a mysterious diving accident after enigmatically asking Thorn if he's ever heard of red tilapia, the exotic food fish. When he discovers that Darcy was murdered via a paralyzing judo handhold known only to covertly trained assassins, Thorn vows revenge. Following a bullet-dodging introduction to Sylvie, the sociopathic daughter of murderous Harden Winchester, Thorn stumbles across a twisted family tree. Hall ricochets this oddball cast helter-skelter through the sleazy mazes of south Florida's tourist-clotted off-ramps, across the alligator-infested Everglades to posh Naples and beyond. As usual, Hall's Uzi-punctuated prose is compelling. Despite the uncharacteristically bad, comic-opera melodrama of the climactic scene, Hall manages in this quirky, thought-provoking nail-biter to convey with ominous clarity the ecological warning: "The future is now."
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

The author of best-selling thrillers like Hard Aground (Delacorte, 1993) returns with yet another violent romp through the Florida Keys.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044021355X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440213550
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.7 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James W. Hall is the author of 19 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.)


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 12, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hall is the best of the Florida writers. His novels are complex and beautifully written and always full of scary situations and wild bad guys. Mean High Tide is one of his very best, which to my mind makes it one of the best thrillers I've ever read.
Just the opening few chapters will blow anyone away who loves good writing and wild characters. There's a scene on the coral reefs in Key Largo that is as vivid and richly detailed as any underwater writing I've ever read. And in the same scene a moment occurs that is break-your-heart sad and scary at once.
His environmental concerns are also richly detailed in this book. The very real threat of the tilapia fish being introduced into the warm tropical waters of Florida gives the book a moral weight that most thrillers lack.
He's the best. Read all of them. But if you want to see Thorn at his most creative and angriest, read this novel.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Invasive exotic species, get the picture? Eventually so does Thorn. A breeding program to develop a species of "red" tilapia under the theory that Americans will eat anything that's "red," not so far fetched now that we know about red dye in farmed salmon, threatens to unleash a flood of unwelcome visitors into the glades watershed. The story is a bit heavy handed, but after all so is Thorn.
I discovered a used copy of this novel in a bookstore in the Keys a few years ago while hunting a poolside "read." Almost got as red as the tilapia as I forgot the time in the sun and since have hunted down the entire series. A rough, tough south Florida adventure novel, and while not Hall's best it's worth the time if you like this sort of fiction. I do.
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By A Customer on May 27, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
James W. Hall is an excellent author, his books are always full of adventure, non stop edge of your seat suspense and packed with factual scientific information pertinent to the day in time.
Hall introduces the story by forcing the reader to feel what it's really like to be inside of Thorn's skin. With the death of his close companion we share his anger, outrage, frustration and grief. The plot of the story holds more meaning because the reader is personally and emotionally tied to the story.
Although the story is obviously fictional one cannot help wondering how far fetched a biological disaster as such could really be. In nature one finds that these occurances are often natually corrected however this book presents the question, "What if it occurs intentionally?" and more importantly, "Why?"
James W. Hall is indisputably worth your money, attention and time. Don't stop with Mean High Tide!!!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
What a disturbing picture of law enforcement in Florida James Hall paints. Twelve corpses of people who worked in a federal research facility stacked up "like Lincoln Logs", discovered by a volunteer fire dept. crew, and nothing leaks out to the news media. No investigation is ever made. Why? Because the "good stuff never makes it into the paper", according to one nudist colony member now living at the scene of the crime. "The truly interesting news, somehow they manage to keep it quiet." We're expected to believe this? That purges going on in Florida are kept quiet? And who is the "they" that keeps it quiet? That question is never really answered, other than some oblique references to the CIA.
Thorn, the laconic he-man hero of Mean High Tide readily swallows this line without a trace of doubt. So too, apparently, did the families and friends of the slaughtered researchers. Yet, in another part of Florida, a "thorough investigation" is made to find the person who carved an obscenity into the skin of a potato.
Now, I'm not a person who insists on absolute realism in fiction, but, golly, this seems a bit much. Twelve people? A potato skin?
Later, an ex-Mafia hood comes into Thorn's house in a quiet residential neighborhood and honeycombs it with shots from a gun that makes fist size holes in the hardwood floor. In my limited experience, a gun that powerful makes quite a loud noise. Yet no one calls the police. Thorn has to be talked into doing this himself by his friend, Sugar, an ex-cop. It's a gross inconvenience to Thorn, who, in his words, is "not up to dealing with police bullshit at the moment".
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Hall is the best of the Florida writers, and this is one of his most beautifully crafted novels. From the opening scene snorkeling on the reefs off Key Largo, to the final scenes in the Everglades, Hall renders the natural beauty of Florida like no other writer ever has. The thrills are there too, and wild characters (like Hiaasen's, only 3 dimensional), and great dialog. This is one of the best novels by one of the best thriller writers in the country.
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I enjoyed this book, an eco-mystery with an engaging plot about red tilapia--a contradiction in terms because impossible. Hall's descriptive detail was a bit over the top: one got the sense that he tried to build suspense by shifting to descriptive detail instead of continuing the narrative--thus one longed for less of it at times. His plotting and characters, esp. Sylvie and her father Harden Winchester were great.I especially enjoyed the description of snorkling but was thrown by the fact that the one character I really liked was murdered within the first few chapters. Her death was the kind that made you hide your eyes and hold your friend's hand.
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