Booklist is one of those periodicals that librarians (bless their hearts) read and thus, the book reviews often help them select new purchases. Ordinary book readers usually are unaware of Booklist's importance in the publishing business, but it carries considerable weight among booksellers, editors, publishers, and other book reviewers. The folks at Booklist have always been fans of my novels (showing more enthusiasm for some books than others).
What I always value in a review is a smooth and efficient retelling of the storyline (without spoilers) and an appreciation for some of the other intangibles in the prose that I work so hard on creating.
This review has both.
Thorn is a hermetic, fly-tying loner whose attempts to carve a separate peace for himself on Key Largo are only intermittently successful. Inevitably, he’s drawn into somebody else’s fight, or, in a kind of reverse serendipity, simply walks into a mess that needs fixing. And when Thorn gets to fixing something, he doesn’t stop until the job’s done. Ah, but the collateral damage, there’s the rub. Too often Thorn’s knight-errantry puts those he loves in danger. This time it’s a little different. The problem is Thorn’s newly discovered son (Dead Last, 2011), who has joined forces with a band of ecoterrorists who have designs on Florida’s largest nuclear-power plant. (The plan is supposed to be nonviolent, but a cell within the cell has other ideas.) Thorn’s only hope of extricating his son is to join up with the terrorists, which raises the bar on possible collateral damage to a new high. Hall is one of those rare thriller writers who can build character as he ratchets tension, who can do no-holds-barred action scenes with panache and, in the midst of bedlam, never loses sight of nuance. All those skills are on display here, as Hall assembles a full-bodied supporting cast whose stories hold our interest as much as Thorn’s attempt to save his son without helping to bring about a South Florida version of Chernobyl. A fine thriller on every level.
--Bill Ott, Booklist, November 1, 2013