From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Shamus-winner Hall's superlative 11th thriller to feature Thorn (after Hell's Bay
) finds his iconoclastic Key Largo, Fla., PI with a newly acquired fortune. Thorn is excited when his girlfriend, Rusty Stabler, presents a deal to protect 300 square miles of Florida from development and also put Earl Hammond's Coquina Ranch game-hunting operation out of business. Then Hammond is shot to death, Thorn is kidnapped—but Hall is just getting warmed up. While Thorn tries to figure a way out of the literal hole he's in, Rusty and Thorn's longtime friend Sugarman try to track him. Warped contract killers Jonah and Moses Faust, who deal in serial killer memorabilia, and Hammond's very different sons, ex-football star Browning and Miami cop Frisco, play large roles. Hall steadily ratchets the suspense while seamlessly combining elements of Florida's natural history with elements of the state's early development and overdevelopment. (Jan.)
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*Starred Review* When Hall’s hermit hero Thorn, the Key Largo beach bum who used to earn his meager living tying flies, inherited millions of dollars from a long-lost relative (Hell’s Bay, 2008), readers couldn’t help but wonder where the series could possibly go next. Thorn a multimillionaire, even one determined to use his money to preserve uncivilized Florida? Well, yes, we’re happy for him, but won’t he cease to be the quintessential off-the-grid loner living on the fringes of civilization? Hall answers that question in this superb thriller, which finds Thorn still on the outside, still inadvertently bringing disaster to those he loves. Nothing like money to make a mess out of life. It starts with what should have been a sweet deal. Thorn’s lover, Rusty Stabler, now also his business manager, has negotiated a three-cornered transaction with the state of Florida and ranching mogul Earl Hammond to save Hammond’s massive holdings in central Florida from developers. All seems to go awry, however, when Hammond is murdered and Thorn is kidnapped. With his hero out of the action for a chunk of the novel, Hall luxuriates in character development, creating rich, multidimensional portraits of the Hammond clan and of two wacko contract killers. But there’s still room in the story for Thorn to face down his demons, the mild-mannered hermit once again giving vent to his lizard brain and unleashing “a crazed surge that wasn’t hate or fear or rage but some poisonous cocktail of all three.” Can anyone match Hall’s ability to combine thoughtful, character-driven drama with blood-thumpingly in-the-moment existential thrills? No, no one can. --Bill Ott