Saturday, December 26, 2009

Robo Cat vs. Defenseless Dog

In case you somehow missed this:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blue Heaven

A lot of ambiance, Keys style, and the food's great too.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Adult Only Thorn

Somebody sent me this to keep me abreast of Thorn.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cloud Redux

Since some of you asked about that cloud I posted earlier:

Undulatus asperatus (or alternately, asperatus) is a rare, newly recognized cloud formation, that was proposed in 2009 as the first cloud formation added since cirrus intortus in 1951 to the International Cloud Atlas of the World Meteorological Organization.[1] The name translates approximately as roughened or agitated waves.[2]

From Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Silencer Tour

As it stands right now I'll be doing the rounds in Florida with one stop in Texas.


Tuesday 1/19 – Vero Beach (FL) Center @ 7 PM

Wednesday 1/20 – Murder on the Beach (Delray Beach, FL) @ 7:30 PM

Thursday 1/21 – B&N in Orlando @7 PM

Friday 1/22 – Bookmark in Jacksonville, FL @ 7 PM

Saturday 1/23 – Circle Books in Sarasota @ 1 PM, then Haslam’s in St. Petersburg @ 4:30 PM

(WGCU-FM, the Ft. Myers NPR station, will air a review)

Sunday 1/24 – Inkwood in Tampa @ 2 PM

Saturday 1/30 – Murder by the Book in Houston, TX @ 5 PM

Wednesday 2/3 – Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL @ 8 PM

Saturday 2/6 – Moore Books in Key Largo @ 3 PM

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A little poetry

This is Sharon Olds, one of my favorite poets.

Hiking This Summer

On a hike, Evelyn smiles.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Creepy Cloud

Looks Photo shopped, but they say it's real. Newly named. Buckle your seatbelts. That rain cloud looks like it's going to get nasty.

And here's another Asperatus:

I've shut my mouth and I'm not going to say the obvious thing about Global Warming or Climate Change. But hey, look at that freaking cloud.

Another Star

Well, Booklist (which is published by the American Library Association) gave Silencer a wonderful review--with a star and everything. I'm thrilled.

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

Stella, One of the Cavaliers

Here she is, Stella the magnificent, rolling in something odiferous in North Carolina. It's probably a slug, but it could be a dead earthworm, or perhaps a rotten egg. Normally I yell at her and make her stop, but this time I wanted to record the event. Ah, the smell of old fish in the morning.

And that lovely white noise in the background is our bold stream bubbling past.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Early Review

Okay, so here we go. The new book will be published two months from now (the 19th of January), and the early reviews start coming in right now. The Publisher's Weekly review came today and I was happy to see it was starred.

* Silencer James W. Hall. Minotaur, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-35959-1

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.)

I should be blase about this stuff after getting reviews for twenty plus years. But I'm not. I was happy for this one, not because it sells books (because I'm not sure a starred review sells many), but because it's a nice validation of the work I did over the last year and a half. My editor and agent and publisher liked the book. My wife liked it (which is truly important), but it's always good to hear from a reviewer who is supposed to be somewhat objective.

So now I'm going to get back to work on the bestseller book revisions. They're almost done. It's a funnier book than I'd thought it would be when I started it a long while back. Sort of like my classes used to be, somewhat serious, but mostly not.

My wonderful web person is working on some updates on the site. If anyone has any suggestions, it would be interesting to hear.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another Spiderman

Evin, a tenth grade teacher, sent me this wonderful video of him reciting my poem to his class. I think he does a bang up job.

Evin reminds me what a powerful impact teachers have on the world. When you see his energy and passion and the way he's getting his class to react to him, you can't help feeling inspired and hopeful. That there are folks like Evin out there doing such cool stuff with the next generation should thrill us all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I've been hunkered down this summer, working on two projects. Well, three. Two book projects and an athletic one. I've been learning the modern topspin forehand to try to energize my tennis game. Here it is on youtube,a video taken by a friend while I'm hitting forehands with another friend.

It still needs some refinements. I'm hitting on the back foot and falling away from the court too much on the follow through. In a few of the strokes, I do go forward and generate a lot more pace.

It's kind of like driving a brand new car. I can't wait to go out and hit those balls. I've been playing tennis since I was ten or eleven, starting back in the dark ages when no one I knew played the sport. I was looking for a game to play in the spring because I didn't much care for baseball. I got addicted, and though there were only two courts in the town I grew up on, I managed to learn the fundamentals of the game from hours and hours out in the Kentucky sun.

My hitting partner and I used to sweep the snow off the court in the winter so we could play. We were nuts. I still am.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thorn's Backyard

Thorn's backyard.

And look what's going to wash ashore.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

# Hardcover: 304 pages
# Publisher: Minotaur Books (January 19, 2010)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Python v. Alligator

We were having an argument at a dinner party last night about this situation, so I decided to go search out the clip. Here it is in case anyone missed it. Just another day in South Florida. (And oh, by the way, the narrator here is local CBS anchor, and our next door neighbor, Elliott Rodriquez.)


Cheney is caught in a sad, bitter loop of his own devising. You would think he'd just clean his shotgun and go hunt some caged up 'wildlife.' And leave us alone for a while. But no. It's just one more whopper after another.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Politics of Torture

The Fuss Over Pelosi-- E.J. Dionne from the Washington Post

There is something very strange about seeing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the middle of a controversy over the Bush Administration’s policies on torture. Pelosi had nothing to do with the policy, yet she is facing all of the what-did-she-know-when questions. Republicans who opposed disclosure of the memos on the torture policy now want Pelosi to tell all about herself. My hunch is that the pressure on Pelosi will backfire on the G.O.P. by forcing a truth commission, or at least lots of hearings, and much more disclosure. Pelosi has been, shall we say, less than artful in her handling of this. Dana Milbank, in his typically pungent way, captured the take-away from her news conference Thursday when he wrote that Pelosi “performed the delicate art of backtracking while walking sideways.” Nonetheless, her claim that the CIA did not brief her in 2002 about the use of waterboarding is -- contrary to what my friend Ramesh Ponnuru suggests elsewhere – entirely plausible. Pelosi received at least indirect support from former Sen. Bob Graham who told MSNBC that “when I was briefed, which was about three weeks after the Speaker, the subject of waterboarding did not come up.” It actually matters whether Congress was fully briefed or not, and we need to know. I have been more sympathetic to normal Congressional hearings on all this than a truth commission, but given all the claims and counter-claims, maybe a truth commission is the only way to establish what happened and why so we can avoid a mess like this in the future.


If you can't trust Bob Graham, you can't trust anybody.

For a clear-eyed view of what was done in our name in Iraq, check this out.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Back in our mountain home.  

A different view out my office window.  Gone are the lizards and palm fronds and the humidity and the flat flat flat land.  

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Naples Press Club

Had a fine time in Naples last month at the Naples Press Club writers conference. Met some fine writers and some good folks in the audience. A very professionally run conference. Check it out.

But what's that orangutan doing in the same photo with me? Hmmm.

How do you like the cover for Silencer?  It could change, but this is the concept at the moment.  Comments?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Some Great Photos

You need to check out Mike Stern's wonderful photos of Florida wildlife. Birds and more.

He's a poet of the photographic image. And a good friend.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spiderman Speaks

This is a video made by Vince Gotera, a fine poet himself. I'm honored he did such a great job with this poem. He actually performs it better than I do.

You can find out more about Vince here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Last Class

After 36 years, I'm done. Florida International University was great to me. Letting me hide away and work. I started out as a 25 year old kid, trying to figure out what it meant to be a college professor. These are some of my students at the very end of that arc. They were some of the best, in a long line.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Paperback, Hell's Bay

Here are the March 2009 Bestsellers from the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association

1 - Hannah Dennison, Scoop!, Signet
2 - Emily Brightwell, Mrs. Brightwell in the Nick of Time, Berkley
3 - tie
James W. Hall, Hell's Bay, St. Martin's
Deanna Raybourn, Silent on the Moor, Mira
5 - Rhys Bowen, Tell Me, Pretty Maiden, St. Martin's
6 - Bryan Gruley, Starvation Lake, Touchstone
7 - Andrea Camilleri, August Heat, Penguin
8 - Victoria Laurie, Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun, Obsidian
9 - Alexander McCall Smith, The Miracle at Speedy Motors, Anchor
10 - Laura Childs, The Silver Needle Murder, Berkley

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Head Down

I've got my head down for a few weeks now, finishing up the long-promised, long-delayed book on the biggest bestsellers of all time and what they have in common.
An irreverant, and possibly irrelevant, look at popular culture and the short happy history of the novel.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Separated at Birth

George and Bernie

Rod and Paul

Brad and Paul


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Illegal Hair

Paul Levine, aka the best head of hair in America has just released a new hardback novel that I highly recommend.

Paul is funny. Smart and funny. Smart and funny and a damn good writer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


A weekend in Key West. Mainly we walked, but we couldn't resist taking the rickshaw at the end of a long day.

Then there was our time in butterfly world. Hadn't been there before. Been going to Key West for over forty years, and this is the first time I've bonded with an insect. If I look a little tired, it's because I was.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Barbara Parker RIP

Here she is with Chris Kling and Les Standiford. Barbara was part of a class of FIU students that inluded Chris, Dennis Lehane, Vicki Hendricks and others. Barbara was right up there at the top of the class. Always merry and bright.

She was a wonderful lady and a fine writer. Always a pleasure to be around. You can read her obit here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Double Hit of Watermelons

And then there's this watermellon classic from my youth. I remember loving it at the time. Now it seems...well, I guess I'm getting very old.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Here's the guts of the Kindle.

In case you're interested. See all those little tiny books hiding in there. Paper pages and leather binding.

Relocate This

Magnetic attraction.

First Amendment

Clearwater Gets Murky

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I'm no lawyer, but I don't think the city has a leg to stand on.
But then I'm partial to the rights of bait shops everywhere.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Aw, Sheryl

Good grief

Hit it!
This ain't no disco
It ain't no country club either
This is LA!

"All I wanna do is have a little fun before I die,"
Says the man next to me out of nowhere
It's apropos
Of nothing

Kindle Swindle and March Madness

Roy Blount raises a serious question about the Kindle.

And here's a second review of Kindle, which makes it sound as if some of the tweaks they've done have been very successful. It now holds 1500 books!!!

On a totally unrelated matter, as we approach March Madness (my favorite sports time of the year, other than the two weeks of Wimbledon), my Kentucky Wildcats are doing only so-so this year. They might not even make the NCAA. They better beat Florida on March 7th if they have a decent chance.

But despite a relatively off several years, the Kentucky Wildcats that I grew up worshipping are generally regarded as the best basketball program of all time. That's some solace. But what have they done for us lately?

I still like their scrappy play. Bring back the full-court pressure and the run and gun game of Rick Pitino, that would be Coach Hall's suggestion.

I used to listen to this guy's heroics on the radio.

And then there was this guy, who still is on my sports page a lot of mornings. What a head of hair. Reminds me of Paul Levine.

There are those who argue that the old Pat Riley and the new one should merge. Boy, that would be cool for a Kentucky Wildcat fan.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jeepers Peepers

Florida scores again. Sure, it could've happened anywhere. But still.

And then we have this hard-drive crash.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Here's a handy-dandy tool for finding an independent bookstore near you.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Losing Luster

Ah, Florida. We ain't what we used to be. Thank goodness.

And I think Carl Hiaasen has it exactly right.

In the forty plus years I've been living in Florida, I think I've read the same article about Florida going bust, or Paradise Lost, or one or the other of those doomsday scenarios about a dozen times. And yet, here we are, still smelling the cinammon breezes and watching the orchids bloom in February.