Time to let loose the blood-crazed shoppers:
Oline Cogdill at the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel likes it. It's always great to get off to this kind of start. There might be one or two more reviews this weekend, but I'm expecting most of them next weekend. But who knows? With a book coming out on a Tuesday, the reviews could be scattered over two weekends, with some trickling out weeks from now.
But your job (if you choose to accept it) is to buy the book immediately. Make those registers ring.
Sometimes my fans can get a little ROWDY. Tranquilo hombres...pub day is coming.
Book review: Hell's Bay by James W. Hall
Oline H. Cogdill | Mystery columnist
February 3, 2008
Hell's Bay. James W. Hall. Minotaur/St. Martin's Press. $24.95. 320 pp.
Thorn has a first name. He also has a middle name. And he has a family.
These revelations about a character normally would be commonplace, but through nine novels Thorn's lack of a first name has reinforced his solitary nature, connected more to his environment than to humans.
Longtime readers of James W. Hall's fascinating series will relish these bits of trivia about the quasi beach bum of Key Largo revealed in Hell's Bay. Hall uses Thorn's mysterious history to build a solid, action-packed story about eco-terrorists, the past's pull and family ties.
Hell's Bay epitomizes Hall's ongoing ecological theme as he explores nature in all its glory as well as the destruction that man causes the environment — in this case phosphate mining in Florida — and, ultimately, himself.
What turns into Hell's Bay starts as a secret fishing spot so hidden that man has probably never visited. The cruise to this remote area along the Peace River in southwestern Florida will be idyllic and will launch a new business specializing in wealthy fishermen thrilled by the idea of the hidden.
Thorn is basically going along for the ride, helping his old girlfriend Rusty set up a houseboat that will snag an elite clientele. But the first customers are a little more interested in Thorn than fishing. John Milligan, accompanied by his daughter, Mona, not only shocks Thorn by calling him by his given names, but also has proof that Thorn is his nephew. Thorn knew little more than his parents' names, having been orphaned when he was hours old and raised by foster parents.
But Thorn doesn't quite trust this reunion, especially when he learns he is one of the heirs to a major fortune since the family matriarch — and Thorn's grandmother — recently was murdered. And of all things for Thorn to inherit — an estate that made billions strip mining phosphate in central Florida.
The family's environmental sins haven't gone unnoticed. The fishing party is soon stalked by Sasha Olsen, whose husband died of cancer related to the phosphate and whose brilliant son is dying from the same kind of disease.
Sasha has come to the pristine wilderness armed for war; Thorn has no weapons; the final showdown will force Thorn to use his ingenuity and knowledge of nature.
Taking place almost entirely in the Florida wild, the Hell's Bay's setting is both expansive and claustrophobic, showcasing the state from the interior's "rugged dignity" to the air smelling of "snakes and damp mud and an occasional gust of a sharp, insistent citrus scent … of a teenage boy's first cologne."
Hell's Bay also allows Hall to explore the roots of this series as the novel echoes back to Under Cover of Daylight, the author's 1987 debut. That critically acclaimed first novel set the tone for a series in which each sequel has surpassed the previous for its depth of character, scenery and plot.
Hall has a reputation for creating frightening villains, and Sasha ranks high. An ordinary woman who has lost the only two people she loved, Sasha doesn't care who she hurts or what happens to her. That makes her more lethal than even a paid assassin. Hall, a literature and creative writing professor at Florida International University for 34 years, knows how to make evil ooze off the page.
With Hell's Bay, Hall delivers a true rip-roaring adventure.
Meet the author
James W. Hall will discuss and sign Hell's Bay at the following venues:
7 p.m. Friday at Murder on the Beach, 273 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach, 561-279-7790.
Feb. 11 during the Sierra Club meeting at the Sailing Club, 2990 S. Bayshore Drive, Coconut Grove. Event opens at 7 p.m. Free and open to the public. For information, call Ken Smith at 305-801-6876 or visit florida.sierraclub.org/miami/.
7 p.m. Feb. 27 for a Conversation With ... at the Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call the Florida Center for the Book at 954-357-7401 for free reservations.
8 p.m. Feb. 29 at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, 305-442-4408.
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