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Though Hall's second Florida Keys thriller lacks the emotional power of his first (Under Cover of Daylight, 1987), it does recycle that novel's fetchingly laid-back hero for another involving, and more black-humored, yarn. Key Largo fly-fishing expert Thorn, however, isn't all that Hall recycles: also back are the derivative Florida-thriller pattern of quirky villains, a heroine with brains and brass to match her beauty, and a busy plot hinged on vengeance. Hall picks up Thorn's life four months after the close of his first adventure: still aching from the rape/murder of his stepmother and the bombing of his house, Thorn just wants to whittle fishing lures and build a new home. But big trouble comes calling when boyhood pal Gaeton Richards--FBI working undercover at a crooked security firm--turns up missing. Unknown to Thorn, Gaeton's the victim of two weird bad guys: dimwitted low-life Ozzie Hardison, who kidnaps Gaeton after mistaking him for a love-rival; and brighter but much meaner Benny Cousins, the owner of that security firm who, having made Gaeton as an undercover agent, shoots him dead when he finds Gaeton trussed up with linoleum in Ozzie's garage. When Gaeton's sister Darcy--Thorn's new love, a TV weathergirl--""senses"" that her brother's dead and swears revenge, Thorn pitches in, partly by hounding Benny by freezing Gaeton's recovered body in Ozzie's Tropical Freeze ice-cream truck and then propping it up like an iceman from hell within Benny's line of sight. Before justice is fully served, though, Thorn finds himself trussed up just like Gaeton in Ozzie's linoleum, with Benny's gun to his head, and Darcy finds herself the captive of Benny, revealed as a mass murderer. . . Stylishly written--Hall's published four volumes of poetry--but without the distinctive, brooding voice of his first, and with too many echoes of fellow Florida-thriller writers Leonard, Hiaasen, and Willeford.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1989
Publisher: Norton