In Hall's 13th Thorn novel, the go-it-alone Key Largo PI undergoes a crash course in parenthood when he discovers the grown son he barely knows belongs to an environmental activist group with terrorism on its agenda.
In targeting the Turkey Point nuclear power plant near the Florida Keys, the Earth Liberation Front originally had planned on a nonviolent action. But extremists in the group now have a spectacular demolition in mind, having acquired a superpowerful explosive. Taken prisoner by ELF on the remote island where they're preparing the attack, Thorn is unable to talk his son, Flynn, into escaping with him. But to be around the boy in order to protect him, he convinces ELF that he supports their efforts. It helps that one of the group's leaders is a woman for whom Thorn was a surrogate father when she was a troubled teen. Meanwhile, having been alerted to ELF's presence by the logo they left inside the plant's supposedly impenetrable security system, authorities, including FBI man Frank Sheffield, plan a "force-by-force" exercise in which agents take on the plant's security forces with simulated weaponry. In the end, real shots are fired, Thorn's sidekick, Sugarman, gets more of the action than he bargained for, and betrayals are revealed—the great sex Frank has with a psychologically scarred Homeland Security agent from his past proves to be skin-deep. As ever, Hall is in colorful command of his South Florida setting, occasionally editorializing on the harm developers are doing to it. Compared to other mystery writers, he plays things refreshingly low key, but he's always in control, thriving on the setup as much as the payoff.
The plot of Going Dark doesn't have the zip of some of Hall's other Thorn books, but with its nicely observed characters and lively dialogue—and terrific sex scenes—it keeps readers turning the pages.