A father’s murder and a son’s ruthless betrayal are at the heart of the new novel by “master of suspense” (Publishers Weekly) James W. Hall
Earl Hammond, the wealthy patriarch of a family of ranchers, lies dead, shot just as he was to donate his Coquina Ranch to the state to preserve it from developers. Spearheading the plan to save this environmental treasure was Thorn, a reluctant heir to a secret family fortune, who now finds himself in terrible danger as well. A pair of deviant brothers, both contract killers, kidnaps him and drags him to a game preserve, surrounded by herds of exotic and very dangerous animals. He is entrapped in a sinkhole—a geological dungeon from which there is no escape.
But Frisco Hammond, the dark sheep of the family, is drawn into the investigation of his father’s murder and Thorn’s disappearance. He suspects the crimes are related. Helping him is his brother’s beautiful, troubled wife, Clare. They uncover a trail that leads back to the 1930’s, to a cabal of powerful and rich men with a sinister plan.
Silencer pits brother against brother and wife against husband in a thriller that proves once again that James Hall is “the king of the Florida-gothic noir” (Dennis Lehane).
*Starred Review* When Hall’s hermit hero Thorn, the Key Largo beach bum who used to earn his meager living tying flies, inherited millions of dollars from a long-lost relative (Hell’s Bay, 2008), readers couldn’t help but wonder where the series could possibly go next. Thorn a multimillionaire, even one determined to use his money to preserve uncivilized Florida? Well, yes, we’re happy for him, but won’t he cease to be the quintessential off-the-grid loner living on the fringes of civilization? Hall answers that question in this superb thriller, which finds Thorn still on the outside, still inadvertently bringing disaster to those he loves. Nothing like money to make a mess out of life. It starts with what should have been a sweet deal. Thorn’s lover, Rusty Stabler, now also his business manager, has negotiated a three-cornered transaction with the state of Florida and ranching mogul Earl Hammond to save Hammond’s massive holdings in central Florida from developers. All seems to go awry, however, when Hammond is murdered and Thorn is kidnapped. With his hero out of the action for a chunk of the novel, Hall luxuriates in character development, creating rich, multidimensional portraits of the Hammond clan and of two wacko contract killers. But there’s still room in the story for Thorn to face down his demons, the mild-mannered hermit once again giving vent to his lizard brain and unleashing “a crazed surge that wasn’t hate or fear or rage but some poisonous cocktail of all three.” Can anyone match Hall’s ability to combine thoughtful, character-driven drama with blood-thumpingly in-the-moment existential thrills? No, no one can. —Bill Ott