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Hell's Bay (Thorn Mysteries)by James W. Hall
Synopses & Reviews
Master of suspense James W. Hall's Hell's Bay sends Thorn deep into the wilds of South Florida, in a story with all the haunting atmosphere of Deliverance and the sheer terror of Cape Fear.
Descended from pioneer stock, the Bateses are an aristocratic Floridian family with vast holdings in real estate and mining. When matriarch Abigail Bates is discovered drowned in the Peace River, a chain of events is set into motion, embroiling Thorn with a family he never knew he had and a fortune he doesn't necessarily want.
Thorn is leading a fishing expedition into the isolated lakes and mangrove swamps of Hell's Bay when Abigail's son and beautiful granddaughter arrive, claiming Thorn as a long-lost relative and asking him to solve the woman's murder. Little do they know that the killer is already on their trail. Soon their houseboat becomes a precarious island of safety in a landscape of escalating violence. What does the killer want? And why is their predator so enraged, determined to kill them all no matter what the cost?
As Marilyn Stasio said in The New York Times, "If violence can be poetic, Hall has the lyric voice for it." In this tour de force of fear and suspense, Hall shows how one family's dark past comes back to haunt its most remote member — and may ultimately cost him his life.
"Edgar-winner Hall (Magic City) puts a Southern gothic twist on his latest Florida thriller to feature his iconic hero, Key Largo beach bum Thorn. While helping old flame Rusty set up a houseboat deep in the Everglades as a fishing spot for tourists, Thorn becomes entangled in the intrigue surrounding the murder of Abigail Bates, a wealthy land and mine owner. Soon after, one of Rusty's first customers, John Milligan, confronts Thorn and claims to be Thorn's uncle, making him face old family secrets possibly connected to Bates's murder. Thorn's detective friend, Sugarman, at Thorn's request, starts making possibly dangerous inquiries into the crime. The appeal of this multilayered novel lies in the authenticity of its evocation of the Everglades, along with a slow-burning plot that kicks into high gear when Thorn and Rusty's guests, cut off from the outside world by sabotage, are hunted by Bates's killers. The result is another compulsive page-turner from a master of suspense. Author tour. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"James W. Hall and David Fulmer are talented crime writers, Hall the winner of an Edgar award, Fulmer of a Shamus. Their work is distinguished not only by intelligence and passion but also by an exceptional sense of place. For Hall the place is Florida. When his trouble-prone fishing-boat captain, Thorn, denounces corporate thugs 'with giant shovels or derricks and mile-long drills'... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) who are busy raping and plundering the state he loves, he could be channeling John D. MacDonald's immortal Travis McGee. Indeed, Thorn seems a conscious tribute to McGee, although McGee was the more dashing hero and the McGee books are more lighthearted, more pure fun. This is probably intended, and perhaps inevitable. Hall started publishing in 1987, not long after MacDonald's death ended the McGee series, and things have gotten worse, environmentally speaking, since then. In 'Hell's Bay,' Thorn, his pal Sugarman and Thorn's sometime girlfriend Rusty are pitted against a family of billionaires whose firm, Bates International, carries out massive phosphate mining that is polluting waterways in central Florida. At the outset, we see the Bates family's 87-year-old matriarch murdered — dragged underwater and drowned in a stream her company is polluting. Her killer, Sasha Olsen, is a formidable Iraq war veteran who blames the Bates company for the lung cancer that killed her husband and has her teenage son near death. What's not clear is whether she acted alone or in cahoots with someone else, perhaps the dead woman's scheming son or enigmatic granddaughter, John and Mona Milligan, both of whom hunger for control of the family conglomerate. Hall puts Thorn and Rusty aboard Rusty's new, million-dollar houseboat for an excursion in the Everglades, with both suspect Milligans among the paying customers. This luxury cruise soon becomes the fishing trip from Hell, as a well-armed Sasha arrives to pick off her unarmed prey. An exciting confrontation follows as Thorn battles to save himself and the others from crazed Sasha and her shadowy allies. Along the way, Hall expounds on such topics as the joys of creating bonefish flies, the ecological importance of mangrove roots, the toxic horrors of phosphate mining and the challenges of going one-on-one with a bull shark. 'Hell's Bay' offers a tasty mix of rip-roaring adventure, caustic social commentary and lyrical appreciation of the beauty that still exists in Florida, despite everything. David Fulmer also has a highly developed sense of place, but he keeps moving it around. His first three novels were set in New Orleans, early in the 20th century, and combined crime stories with the emergence of jazz pioneers such as Jelly Roll Morton and Buddy Bolden. Then came 'The Dying Crapshooter's Blues,' set in Atlanta in the 1920s, which featured the great bluesman Blind Willie McTell. Now, in 'The Blue Door,' Fulmer has advanced to 1962 Philadelphia, where he relates the murder of the lead singer in a local doo-wop group called the Excels. It is Fulmer's achievement, in each of his novels, to have nailed both the city and the music. In 'The Blue Door,' an over-the-hill boxer named Eddie Cero takes a job as a private investigator. He is soon caught up in the disappearance of Johnny Pope, that talented lead singer. This leads him to Johnny's sister Valerie, who now sings at a club called the Blue Door, and to a suspicion that Johnny's white manager might have had the singer killed rather than pay him the money he owed him. The murder eventually is solved, but the novel is really about the music of a particular time and place. Eddie's treasured record collection includes early Elvis offerings on Sun Records, three versions of 'Gloria' and two versions of 'Eddie My Love' — 'and in his studied opinion, the Teen Queens' surpassed the Chantels' .' Eddie can shut his eyes and see rock-and-roll jamborees where 'wild men in luminous suits gyrate across the stage, screaming like banshees, doing splits and spins, their processed pompadours slashing the air, as the drums, guitars, and pianos and the screams of the girls ripped and roared and soared around them.' When Eddie walks the streets of South Philly, he sees the hookers and the hoods, he relishes the aromas of 'cheesesteaks, kugel, manicotti and fatback gravy,' but 'more than anything else, he reveled in the disjointed symphony of the streets ... rock "n" roll and rhythm and blues, polkas and waltzes, nightclub croons and gospel, an Italian block to an Irish block to a Negro block, and on and on, each contributing to the grand work.' As lovers of Florida's waterways will delight in James Hall's Thorn novels, students of American roots music should find much to cherish in Fulmer's books. Each is a highly personal serenade to America's past." Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, whose 'The Triumph of the Thriller' has been nominated for a 2008 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for criticism, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Despite the testosterone-laden final pages, which stretches credibility as Hall physically and mentally overcomes a near-impossible situation, this will keep readers glued to their armchairs." Library Journal
"No writer working today...more clearly evokes the shadows and loss that hide within the human heart." Robert Crais
"The king of the Florida-gothic noir." Dennis Lehane
"Delivers taut and muscular stories about a place where evil always lurks beneath the surface." Michael Connelly
Master of suspense James W. Halls Hells Bay sends Thorn deep into the wilds of South Florida, in a story with all the haunting atmosphere of Deliverance and the sheer terror of Cape Fear.
Descended from pioneer stock, the Bateses are an aristocratic Floridian family with vast holdings in real estate and mining. When matriarch Abigail Bates is discovered drowned in the Peace River, a chain of events is set into motion, embroiling Thorn with a family he never knew he had and a fortune he doesnt necessarily want.
Thorn is leading a fishing expedition into the isolated lakes and mangrove swamps of Hells Bay when Abigails son and beautiful granddaughter arrive, claiming Thorn as a long-lost relative and asking him to solve the womans murder. Little do they know that the killer is already on their trail. Soon their houseboat becomes a precarious island of safety in a landscape of escalating violence. What does the killer want? And why is their predator so enraged, determined to kill them all no matter what the cost?
As Marilyn Stasio said in The New York Times, “If violence can be poetic, Hall has the lyric voice for it.” In this tour de force of fear and suspense, Hall shows how one familys dark past comes back to haunt its most remote member---and may ultimately cost him his life.
Wealthy Florida matron Abigail Bates is on a canoe trip down a backwater river when suddenly, from out of nowhere, she is held underwater to drown by a strange and merciless killer…
Thorn is aboard a houseboat in Hells Bay when he is confronted by Abigails son and alluring granddaughter. Thorn soon learns that they are his long-lost relatives—and that he is about to inherit a great fortune. Hes also about to find out that being a member of the Bates family comes with a price…
As he searches for clues about Abigails murder, Thorns houseboat becomes a precarious island of safety as he and the others find themselves hunted by an invisible enemy. For someone out there knows much more about the Bates familys dark past than Thorn does. Someone who has lived a lifetime in their shadow—and has seen the damage their wealth and influence
About the Author
James W. Hall is an Edgar and Shamus Award-winning author whose books have been translated into a dozen languages. He has written four books of poetry, a collection of short fiction, and a collection of essays. This is his fifteenth novel. He and his wife, Evelyn, divide their time between South Florida and North Carolina.
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