Kirkus Reviews QR Code
HELL’S BAY by James W. Hall

HELL’S BAY

By James W. Hall

Pub Date: Feb. 5th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-312-35958-4
Publisher: St. Martin's

The author’s independent fishing guide Thorn acquires a first and middle name and a family with a billion dollars worth of baggage plus the keys to the balance of the Florida ecology.

The latest from the prolific Hall (Magic City, 2007, etc.) opens with the drowning of an 86-year-old granny in pink tennis shoes in a pristine stream. She was Abigail Bates, owner of a huge chunk of central Florida and, to the unhappy surprise of proud loner Thorn, his grandmother. That revelation comes from the customers of a new enterprise just floated by Thorn’s ex-lover and still good friend Rusty, also a fishing guide. Rusty has commissioned a luxury houseboat and hired Thorn to guide her rich anglers to hidden Everglade lakes recently mapped from secret aerial photography. The first rich client is John Milligan, who discovered amongst his late mother Abigail’s papers the existence of a nephew, Thorn. John’s sister had been cut off from the family after eloping with a blue-collar employee, and the young couple died just after Thorn’s birth. Accompanying John is his sultry red-haired adopted daughter, Thorn’s brand new cousin Mona, who believes her grandmother was murdered. And she’s right. On the first day of the cruise the fishing party is attacked by Sasha Olsen, the sworn enemy of everything Bates, including poor Thorn. Sasha is an Iraq war veteran whose nonsmoking husband died from lung cancer thanks to radiation from Bates phosphate mining. Now her only son is dying from the same ailment, and his last wish—before a Viking funeral—is the complete destruction of the Bates family. How can she say no? Saving everybody’s bacon from Sasha requires considerable help from Thorn’s ex-deputy PI pal Sugarman. If Thorn can survive Sasha’s sharpshooting, he will be rich—whether he likes it or not.

Nice performances by Sugarman and the scary villainess in an otherwise unremarkable story.