In the tradition of James Dickey’s Deliverance and Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, bestselling author and award-winning poet James W. Hall has written a literary novel that is also an intricate, suspenseful mystery—a story blending the macabre and the historic, the genteel and the aberrant, the violent and the heroic. With his signature mix of brooding atmosphere and compelling action that readers have come to expect from his Thorn series, Hall takes readers deep into America’s own Heart of Darkness in Forests of the Night.

Policewoman Charlotte Monroe has cop instincts. Scratch that. There isn’t a name for the gift she has, something that borders on psychic, an ability to read people’s faces and body language like the morning headlines—to size up their intentions and act before they do.

It’s a real ability that the FBI is trying to teach to its agents. The bureau is spending millions so they’ll know the difference between a slightly raised eyebrow and a faint twitch of the lip. But Charlotte’s a natural with god-given abilities, and the Feds want her in the worst way, maybe even to the point of blackmail.

Still, Charlotte’s gift fails to prepare her for the stranger who shows up on her doorstep with a chilling warning for her husband, a mysterious note scrawled in Cherokee hieroglyphics and a promise of things to come: “You’re Next.”

The warning becomes more ominous as Charlotte and her husband, Parker, discover the complex truth about this man, including his position on the FBI Most Wanted list and his connection to their family.

When Charlotte’s deeply troubled teenage daughter runs away to join the charismatic outlaw, she follows the two of them into the spectral mists of the Great Smoky Mountains—and to the beating heart of a 150-year-old blood feud that will endanger everything she loves and challenge everything she believes.

“[F]ast-paced, entertaining thriller…compelling, with action scenes that bristle with visceral intensity…the author’s appreciation for history and its reverberations adds further complexity.” —Publishers Weekly

“Hall’s Thorn novels continue to set the standard for Florida noir, but his stand-alone thrillers are equally distinguished. His latest stand-alone is no exception. It begins in Florida, where Coral Gables cop Charlotte Monroe and her defense lawyer husband, Parker, live with their schizophrenic teenage daughter, Gracey. The past reaches out and grabs the present in a deadly stranglehold when Jacob Panther, apparently related to one of Parker’s childhood friends, turns up on the Monroes’ doorstep and walks away with Gracey. Turns out Panther is on the FBI’s most-wanted list. So begins a high-energy chase into the mountains of North Carolina, where Parker spent summers at his father’s camp on sacred Cherokee soil. Hall can do all-stops-out action as well as anyone, but his plots always ride on a remarkably textured harmonic structure built of multidimensional characters with rich inner lives. This time the plot has multiple levels of its own, the seemingly simple manhunt immersing Charlotte, Parker, and Gracey in a generational feud with roots deep in the Cherokee nation and with potentially lethal connections to Parker’s family. But playing against the main plot of saving Gracey are various questions of identity that plague the characters, both major and minor, and that frustrate any facile attempt to sort good guys from bad. A first-rate literary thriller, in the tradition of Stephen Hunter’s Dirty White Boys (1994) and Wayne Johnson’s recent The Devil You Know [BKL F 15 04]. ” —Bill Ott

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James on writing Forests of the Night