BODY LANGUAGE by James W. Hall


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Key West chronicler Hall gives rugged adventurer Dick Thorn (Red Sky at Night, 1997, etc.) a well-earned rest as the author heads north to Miami to follow the fortunes of a police photographer, a lethal serial rapist, and two very large bags full of money. As the technician charged with photographing the Bloody Rapist’s victims, Alexandra Rafferty would have her hands full with one way or the other. Though the Rapist has obligingly left buckets of his blood and dozens of his fingerprints at each of five crime scenes so far, the cops have no leads, and it looks like the Rapist would be providing Alexandra steady work even if she didn’t have troubles closer to home. But her life with armored-car driver husband Stan and with Lawton Collins, the ex-cop father who years ago covered up Alexandra’s own killing of Darnel Flint, the teenaged rapist next door, is about to take a steep downward turn. Smarty-pants Stan, who thinks he’s as cunning as can be, masterminds a $2 million heist from his own armored car. When Alexandra finds the money in the guest-room closet of his empty-headed, giddily amoral lover and confronts him, Stan threatens to tell the police about her own murder, casually revealed to him just a few weeks ago by Lawton, an Alzheimer’s sufferer. Meantime, a couple of operators toting more guns than scruples have decided to cut themselves in on Stan’s caper, and they’re following the money trail right to Alexandra and Lawton. The cast of felons and wannabes provides a field day for Hall’s well-known eye for grotesques (check out especially Lawton’s blackly comic ramblings, presented with affection and respect but without blinkers, and the remorseless thief who keeps a pet roach named Amy), but the novelist never gets so distracted by all the murderous monkeyshines that he loses track of the Bloody Rapist, four counties back but closing fast. A double-barreled actioner set apart from the pack by Hall’s virtuoso control of tone, which can shift you from giggles to gasps with a single well-trimmed phrase. ($200,00 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-19243-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1998


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