Friday, November 9, 2012

Book #59

Hell's Bay, by James W. Hall. Unabridged audio.

Throughout Hall's prior dozen books or so, the character of Thorn has played the role of reluctant hero. He is a loner who would like nothing more than to spend his entire life in the Florida Keys making a meager living as a fishing guide. But circumstances never allow for that, and he always finds himself wrapped up in adventure, drama, and danger.
The combination of Thorn's first-person POV and other characters' third-person POV is a style that I have run across more all the time in modern thrillers or mysteries, but it always strikes me as awkward at first. But once I got used to this style choice, I could enjoy the story itself. Hall writes in a very lyrical way, and his books have a very easily-readable feel to them. His thrillers tends to possess a nice combination of plot, character development, description and dialog.

Thorn has been talked into partnering with an old flame in upscale fishing-guide business, which thrusts Thorn out of his comfort zone and into having to engage in small talk with customers. When it is revealed that the first batch of customers are in fact Thorn's long-lost relatives, he grows even more uncomfortable. When it is revealed that the woman murdered in the first few pages of the novel was Thorn's very rich businesswoman grandmother, his discomfort turns to dread. As the fishing expedition proceeds, the killer tries to pick off members of the party, leading Thorn into a face-to-face confrontation with the killer, a woman seeking revenge. It turns out that the family business (which Thorn has just learned about) has damaged by the woman's family through its business practices.

Thorn's old buddy Sugarman, former deputy and current private investigator, looks into Thorn's newfound family and learns of the death of the grandmother. The local sheriff has declared the death an accident, but Sugarman knows better, and he finds the evidence to prove the sheriff wrong. And he senses a deeper conspiracy involved in the murder and the cover-up. These two plot threads converge in a logical way, and the end of the novel is very dramatic.
This story lays the groundwork for a potential change in Thorn's life and lifestyle. The next book will tell how much of a change actually happens. And I am looking forward to finding out.

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