HARD AGROUND by James W. Hall

HARD AGROUND

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Another tangy Florida thriller from Hall (Bones of Coral, 1991, etc.), this one about long-buried treasure--and murder. Once again, Hall works expertly within the rules of the genre, pitting a misfit hero against fever-dream villains. His new protagonist is Hap Tyler, grandson of one of Miami's founding fathers but no prize, a wenching layabout who carves surfboards when he's not locked up at the local asylum for hearing voices. It's Hap's older brother, Daniel, an archaeologist, who upholds the family name--until Daniel is murdered, which sets Hap against four of Hall's nastiest villains yet. They're Ray Alvarez, a brutal ex- cop; Ray's sidekicks, lifetime loser Glenn Hollings and vicious Martina Phelps--Glenn's remarkably muscular new girlfriend who, Glenn learns to his dismay, used to be named Martin before she ``transgendered'' herself; and, pulling their strings, Senator Garnetta Rawlings. The four are after sunken treasure--treasure that Daniel had been selling to the senator for years, bit by bit. Now Rawlings wants it all, and, when Daniel dies from an overdose of force-fed truth serum, she goes after Hap, who goes after her (in one wry scene, with distilled essence of skunk). Hap cares only about avenging Daniel and preserving his family land; but soon that, too, is threatened when Marguerite, the senator's daughter and Hap's new lover, learns that, due to a legal technicality, she may own all of Miami--including Hap's land--if she can prove that Hap's grandfather killed her grandmother long ago. Some hard violence--a decapitation, shotgunnings, and a hand crisped in a toaster--brings matters to a head, and Hap and Marguerite to fateful choices between greed and honor. A vigorous--even inspired--hoeing of what is, however, old ground (the greedy senator is a particularly hoary bit): still, fans of tropical crime will find pleasures aplenty here.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-30797-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1992




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