DEAD LAST by James W. Hall


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Nothing, it seems, can boost a sagging TV crime series but a series of copycat crimes.

After only five episodes, Miami Ops is already on life support. Blame Gus Dollimore for stretching himself too thin as show runner, executive producer and sole director. Blame his daughter Dee Dee, an actress of limited scope and unlimited pectorals, for her portrayal of the good-and-evil twins who drive the show. Blame her costar Flynn Moss or his twin Sawyer, the writer who, having successfully pitched the concept of a masked killer who leaves obituaries as calling cards at his crime scenes, may end up as TV’s youngest has-been. But if Miami Ops doesn’t add a million viewers within a month, it’s history. Luckily for the show, but unluckily for several real-life victims, someone is evidently inspired to act out its creaky plot in real life. An obit penned by Flynn and Sawyer’s mother April, a veteran reporter, and left at the first scene, implicates soldier of fortune Thorn, even though the killing was in far-off Oklahoma, and brings Sheriff Buddha Hilton calling on him. Thorn, who’s mourning the death of his lover and wife Rusty Stabler, isn’t best pleased to see the 19-year-old sheriff, or to get tangled with a TV cast and crew as dysfunctional as any of Hall’s trademark villains (Silencer, 2010, etc.). But his hand is forced when the most appealing character around becomes the next victim, and he’s soon en route to formula thrills to which he’ll have an unexpectedly personal relationship.

Hall works some pleasing changes on a gimmick that was threadbare when Josephine Tey used it 75 years ago. Not the best Thorn, despite some deeply felt moments.

Pub Date: Dec. 6th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-60732-6
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2011


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