Friday, January 29, 2010

The Dallas Morning News

Yet another wonderful review in the Dallas Morning News:

James W. Hall should be adopted as a Florida state treasure.
But he won't be.

The Florida he has depicted over the course of nearly 20 terrific thrillers is, at its heart, as dark as a northern Siberian night in midwinter. He does a fine job, though, of making the Sunshine State a complex and intriguing location, in which avarice, violence, delusion, great heroism and sometimes even serious (if complicated) love play out.

Silencer, his latest entry featuring his ingenious hero Thorn, keeps his flag flying high. Although the premise – Thorn inherits a vast fortune – seems a bit tenuous, once we accept it, which we do after a chapter or so, the drama begins to build.

To use his money for the highest good, Thorn makes a deal with an important central Florida landowner to take vast acres out of commercial use and keep them natural for posterity. Unfortunately, one of the landowner's sons has another idea, which quickly leads to chicanery, murder and the near demise of Thorn (along with his longtime girlfriend, the talented sister of a former biker gang leader, and the landowner's other son, a Miami mounted police officer).

Fortunately, Thorn knows how to employ various artifacts, such as a family wedding ring and a powerful pistol, to keep himself and others alive.
To reveal more of the plot would spoil it.

Let's just say that this suspenseful novel also features a retiring central character who assumes a forceful role, two strong women and some excellent lore about hunting African beasts in central Florida. We also learn about old Floridian ruling-class conclaves and contemporary Floridian morals, or lack thereof, in a way that makes the Sunshine State look darker and darker as the story unfolds.

Providence Journal

Here's a nice review of Silencer from the Providence Journal:

James Hall’s enigmatic hero Thorn is back in “Silencer” (Minotaur, 276 pages, $24.99), albeit no longer the same simple rapscallion. Indeed, his last adventure, “Hell’s Bay,” ended with him inheriting a 10-figure fortune from a grandmother he hadn’t known he had.

With money, though, come problems and Thorn faces a host of them this time out, not the least of which is getting kidnapped by a pair of murderously deviant brothers right out of the Carl Hiaasen school of Florida lowlifes. They’re actually hired to kill Thorn, but opt to snatch him instead in order to see if there’s more they can get from the job than their bargain basement fee.

Ernest Hemingway explored similar territory in his brilliant short story “The Killers,” and the comparison holds further since Hall ranks with James Lee Burke as a brilliant stylist, lyricist and novelist as well as storyteller. And, make no mistake about it, there’s plenty of story in “Silencer,” including an animal preserve for rich folk who like to shoot geriatric big game and a sinister plot involving, as always, the tortured state of Florida’s land and environment.

Hall never disappoints and “Silencer” is no exception. Like Burke, to read Hall is to savor every sentence and description, and Thorn remains crime’s most unusual, if phlegmatic, protagonist.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book Tour

Home from Phase 1 of book tour. Will give a full account later, but here's a nice review I collected along the way.

In the Dallas Morning News.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Library Journal

Library Journal likes it too.

Hall, James W. Silencer. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jan. 2010. c.304p. ISBN 978-0-312-35959-1. $24.99. M

Thorn shows no sign of changing his laid-back, loner ways in Hall’s (Hell’s Bay; Magic City) fine 11th novel featuring his laconic hero. When Thorn’s girlfriend, Rusty, finds a deal that will help him spend some of his vast fortune while saving a large tract of land in central Florida from development, he jumps at the opportunity. Unfortunately for Thorn, his willingness to be a good guy soon puts him in a sinkhole, literally—he’s tossed in by thugs working for developers anxious to prevent the land from going to Thorn. As Rusty and old friend Sugarman try to help Thorn and save the deal, they endanger themselves.

Verdict Thorn is among the most likable heroes in crime fiction. There is a fair amount of action that fans expect, but the story really revolves around Hall’s outstanding characterization of Thorn, Rusty, and Sugarman. Sure to please fans of the series, this is another winner. [Library marketing campaign; see Prepub Mystery, LJ 9/1/09.]—Craig Shufelt, Fort McMurray P.L., A.B.

Mississippi Votes for Thorn

Aw, shucks, even Mississippi has something nice to say. Right here.

Another Review

The Jacksonville Times-Union gives Thorn some ink. Read it here.


Silencer gets a very smart and thorough and well-written review (which also happens to be positive).

Read it here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Golf Properties?!


Where did this come from? Thorn as Tiger Woods?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Slush Piles

Fascinating stuff on slush piles, and what's replaced them in publishing.

Silencer Review from Associated Press

Bruce DeSilva, long time reviewer for the AP, and soon to be thriller novelist himself (I read Rogue Island in galleys and thought it was terrific), gave me a thoughtful, intriguing and positive review right here

Nice start to the day. Bruce can play rough(but fair) sometimes. Glad to have him on my side this go round.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

First Newspaper Review of Silencer--A doozy

You can read here the first newspaper review of Silencer.

Oline Cogdill spotted a feature of the storyline that I knew was a big storytelling risk. I kept Thorn in a very static situation for a long section of the novel. He's being held captive, trying to escape, but he only manages an inch by inch movement out of his predicament. And it takes several chapters before the problem is resolved.

The writing challenge was to keep all that engaging by using a lot of small details while slowly ratcheting the suspense, then throwing in some surprising setbacks along the way. Thorn makes some progress toward escape, then has to pause and consider the next hurdle and find some creative solution to the next issue. It was fun to write that section, but I did worry that some readers might grow weary of the incremental movement.

So many writers have their heroes zip from one scene to the next, solving every new crisis with superheroic ease, (and I've done that a lot too), that I just wanted to try something a little different. Glad to see a reviewer noticed and approved.