Tuesday 25 August 2015


James W. Hall was one of my first crime fiction discoveries when I happened upon the genre either late 80's or early 90's - my memory isn't good enough to pinpoint it exactly.

His Thorn PI series set in the Florida everglades was compulsory reading for me, until at some point, he fell off my radar. When we started our family in the mid 90s - 3 children in 4 years - 95,96 and 98 - I stopped reading and probably didn't get back into it until the early 2000's.........time, tiredness, lethargy, pressure of work all contributing.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped reading a lot of folks, but still kind of kept tracks on them and dipped in and dipped out and bought some books that never got read (not a habit I have managed to break yet) along the way. Ah, the power of the internet!

Anyway, Hall has thus far written 14 Thorn books over the period of 1987 when UNDER COVER OF DAYLIGHT appeared, up until 2014 with the latest entry THE BIG FINISH appearing. He has written standalones, short stories, poetry and non-fiction as well. Complete whack job that I am, I do have one of his poetry books somewhere in the tubs - unlogged as yet. I don't even like poetry!

Mr Hall taught for over 40 years at Florida International University in Miami. According to Florida Backroads Travel....Hall's fiction often uses Florida settings as a backdrop, including setting such as the Everglades and Key West. Hall's writing explores the contrast in South Florida between squalor and poverty coexisting with tremendous wealth and glamor

The full list of Thorn PI series books is as follows (thanks to Fantastic Fiction website):

1. Under Cover of Daylight (1987)
2. Tropical Freeze (1989)
     aka Squall Line
3. Mean High Tide (1994)
4. Gone Wild (1995)
5. Buzz Cut (1996)
6. Red Sky At Night (1997)
7. Blackwater Sound (2002)
8. Off the Chart (2003)
9. Magic City (2007)
10. Hell's Bay (2008)
11. Silencer (2010)
12. Dead Last (2011)
13. Going Dark (2013)
14. The Big Finish (2014)

I reckon I have about 11 of these and the intention is to read through the series one a month, a goal that I'm probably a year or two away from even starting!

James W.Hall has his website here.

Mean High Tide (1994)

Seeking solace from his violent past in the tropics of Key Largo, Thorn is drawn into a circle of shifty and all too brutal characters when his girlfriend is killed in a scheme involving environmental revenge.

(You don't seem to get much of a blurb with a lot of mid-90s and earlier books.)

Magic City (2007)

Based on real events, and newly declassified documents, Magic City like the films L.A. Confidential and Chinatown evokes a time in our nations history when powerful men were willing to do whatever they thought necessary to achieve their goals. A simple black and white photograph taken during the 1964 Clay-Liston fight on Miami Beach sets off a modern-day murder spree that reaches from the quiet neighborhoods of Miami to the back corridors of the White House. When the last remaining copy falls into Thorns hands, he and everyone he loves become the target of madmen and trained killers, each of whom has his own powerful motive to see the photograph destroyed forever and its secrets kept hidden.


  1. I'm glad you re-discovered Hall's work, Col. Interesting, isn't it, how an author can 'drop off the radar' like that. That kind of thing has happened to me, too. I hope you'll get to those titles soon and enjoy them.

    1. Margot - thanks. The task of cataloguing my books has made things easier, as far as jogging the memory banks for old-favourites, though the time management imponderable remains. How can I read everything I want to in the time I have available?

  2. I don't know Hall's work at all. Sounds fun! I'll keep an eye out.

    1. Worth trying at least one from him I reckon John.

  3. Another new one on me. I do think the internet has made it too easy to buy too many books. It's great to have those lovely complete lists of authors' works (it used to be hard to keep those straight) and then to be able to get them with a couple of clicks. But it is bad for our reading plans...

    1. I can't disagree with you. I used to send a list of wants to a guy in Kaukauna and would hear back from him every couple of months or so. I'd go get USD from the post office and mail them to him!

  4. Col, there are so many crime fiction writers from the 80s & 90s I know nothing about. James W. Hall is another addition to my mental list of new authors, and authors whom I should probably read at some point.

    1. I'm sure you can find one of his from one of your famous street sellers. Well worth the effort.

  5. I have heard of Hall's books but don't know much about them. Seems like I have seen a lot of series set in Florida lately. I would definitely go back and read them from the beginning, because I like books written in the 80s and 90s.

    1. I do like books set in Florida. I'm hoping to work my way through the series eventually. The earlier ones have an appeal for being mostly pre-tech, plus our protagonist is in a fairly remote part of Florida anyway.