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Red Sky at Night Hardcover – June 9, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Thorn, last spotted in the best-selling Buzz Cut (LJ 5/15/96), must come to grips with his own paralysis?the result of a savage beating?while holed up in a pain clinic run by a mad scientist.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Hall's hermit-sleuth Thorn has long been one of the most appealing and complex characters in crime fiction, but here he extends his range still further, taking the Travis McGee^-style genre hero to an altogether new level. Ensconced in his Key Largo beach house, Thorn seems to have carved a lasting separate peace with the modern world until a senseless crime drives the other side of his personality to the fore, the side that says, "There's something broken, and I have to fix it." What's broken this time, though, is Thorn himself, mysteriously paralyzed from the waist down after attempting to confront an apparent prowler. The story begins with the slaughter of several dolphins--killed for their endorphins, the key ingredient in a miracle, pain-killing drug--and extends to Thorn's distant past and his relationship with his best childhood friend, who has been nursing a grudge against Thorn for decades. All of Thorn's unresolved conflicts--Is he running away from the world or trying to save it?--come to the fore here, as Hall makes his hero (and the reader) face simultaneously the pain of powerlessness and the selfishness at the heart of a knight errant's gallantry. And yet, we cheer when Thorn sallies forth one more time, wheelchair-bound but determined to draw on the "white knot of gristle at his stubborn core." Melding the magnetic pull of the archetypal hero on a quest with the flesh-and-blood humanity of a vulnerable man trapped between conflicting needs, Hall masterfully works both ends of the genre street, transforming the beach-bum sleuth into an everyman while at the same time allowing readers to wonder if perhaps we, too, might find a stubborn core of our own, if only we plumbed deep enough. Popular fiction at its absolute best. Bill Ott
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (June 9, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385316380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385316385
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,191,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.)


Customer Reviews

Read easy and fast.
Stephen M. Jones
This book is so good, I'm going to go to the author's website and leave him a message.
Sidekkick
This book is one of the most exciting I've ever read.
Carolyn C. Steele

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 1, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been a fan of James W. Hall for quite some time, and of his main character, Thorn. I could not finish this book- the massacre of the dolphins, the sadistic and Nazilike "experiments" on the old men, and Thorn being at the mercy of the evil doctor, a childhood friend of Thorn's. This book was too sick, morbid and sadistic to qualify as your typical escapist thriller, and not well-written enough to qualify as top novel material. Take a pass on this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By fdoamerica on September 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pain. There is no more lively sensation than that of pain; its impressions are certain and dependable. Marquis de Sade (1740-1814)
What a riveting book! This is my first James W. Hall novel and it I loved it. His strong, bold, vivid characters, often border on the audacious and bizarre. In "Red Sky at Night" Hall pulls you into worlds of paralysis, paraplegics and pain. And as Marquis de Sade said "there is no more lively sensation than that of pain". The Key West setting combined with the madness, murders, mayhem and macabre characters, makes this book a top ratebeach read. Strongly Recommended
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn C. Steele on November 17, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is one of the most exciting I've ever read. As an aficionado of mystery (Ruth Rendell is another of my favorites), I give this book a five star rating. In terms of twists and turns it's right up there with Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris and Mercy by David L. Lindsay. It also has a deeply Floridian atmosphere and a few moments of black humor, a la the late lamented John D. McDonald. Don't make any immediate plans if you get ahold of this book; you won't want to put it down. A word of warning to the faint of heart: this is a medical thriller and has a few very dark moments. But the ending crackles and is MOST satisfying. Kudos to James W. Hall; keep them coming!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 1997
Format: Hardcover
When eleven dolphins, who were part of a healing experiment, are found decapitated in the
Florida keys, amateur detective Thorn, who swam with the victims, decides to investigate.
Instead of solving the case, Thorn is attacked and left paralyzed from his waist down. To get
around, the now bitter Thorn has to use a wheelchair. The pain is so unbearable, Thorn seeks
miracle cures from the fringe elements of medical science.
.......His search for a cure takes him back to his childhood friend, Dr. Bean Wilson, an embittered
researcher running a pain-relief clinic in the Keys. Thorn quickly realizes that there is something
wrong with the clinic and that the dead dolphins are linked to the research going on there. What
he does not know is that the clinic also experiments on real people, discarding the failures by
tossing them into the ocean. How can Thorn hope to be a thorn in the researcher's side when he
is confined to a wheelchair and his foes know how to make or ease pain beyond human
comprehension?
.....RED SKY AT NIGHT is an exciting medical thriller that raises serious ethical questions involving
medical research. The support cast is tremendous and the Florida Keys make a dynamite setting
in the hands of an artist like James W. Hall. A paralyzed Thorn elicits reader empathy as he goes
through various psychological stages (anger, denial, bitterness, and reluctant acceptance even as
he improves). However, his deadly foe, Bean, comes across more like a caricature of Dr.
Cyclops, a poor fifties movie villain than a crisp unethical nineties killer, taking a bit away from
the novel. But check out his assistants. They more than make up for the lackluster Bean.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James P. Lea on February 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Although NOT for the faint of heart or squeamish this incredibly powerful and visceral thriller cements James W.Hall's place as one of the absolute best writers around. His ability to create incredibly complex characters and so throughly convey the trials they have to endure give so much emotional depth to his novels that simply classifying them as thrillers or mysteries does not do him justice. Combine this with his gift of being able to transport the reader to the point of actually feeling as if you are there in the Florida Keys and you have the makings of a great novel. My only warning would be don't start this book if you have other plans (you'll postpone them!) or want a good nights sleep. This book will stay with you long after you have finished the last page-enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Each year, I treat myself to Hall's most recent novel, the only fiction author I'm not willing to wait for the paperback to come out. They are a special treat after what can be depressing days at work. Again, Hall has painted a remarkably clear and alive vision of the Florida keys. The very three-dimensional characters come alive on the page. I've always preferred Hall's villains to his heros, though in this book he makes the heros more interesting. Hmm. The quirkiest character, Pepper, is wonderful, but none of the characters here achieve the literary legend status of the villainous lovers Dougie and Elvira in what I consider Hall's best book, "Bones of Coral." OK, I'm ready for his next book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Watson McFestus on July 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
Nice little medical-eco thriller. Thorn and girlfriend Monica Sampson get involved in an investigation into the slaughter of a dozen dolphins or so at a local theme park. It seems to lead to possible pharmaceutical research into pain. We learn more about Thorn's strange past, there is some funny dialogue between several henchmen, nurse and jack of all traides, Pepper Tremaine and the jerkish Echeverra.
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