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RED SKY AT NIGHT by James W. Hall


by James W. Hall

Pub Date: July 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-385-31638-0
Publisher: Delacorte

 Thorn, Key Largo's most heroic fishing guide, confirms his credentials as self-ordained savior of the Florida ecosphere when he avenges the killings of 11 dolphins. The dolphins were the property of Thorn's friend Roy Everly, who used them as therapeutic swimming companions for the ailing until somebody sneaked into his healing center and slaughtered them in a grisly, elaborate manner. Why would anybody want to kill the harmless, friendly, restorative dolphins? Endorphins, decides Roy; the killers tortured them in order to flood their brains and spinal columns with miraculous painkilling chemicals and then harvested the endorphin-rich organs. It's only natural that Thorn, looking for information about the likely harvesters, should ask his old sawbones, Dr. Bean Wilson, and Wilson's anesthesiologist son Bean Jr., Thorn's childhood buddy and rival. But what's natural this time isn't what's good, since Bean Jr., a researcher in pain management who runs a VA clinic that's come under the watchful (if unofficial) eye of the local DEA chief, is the bad guy, engineering an incident that leaves Thorn's legs seemingly paralyzed. He keeps Thorn immobilized in his Key West clinic while he waits to load him onto the yacht where he conducts his (so far hideously unsuccessful) endorphin experiments. Since Hall is as generous as ever with his subplots, it's no surprise to find the yacht also stocked with Tran van Hung, the Vietnamese money man who's bankrolling Bean Jr.'s experiments; Greta Masterson, the undercover DEA agent they've picked for their latest guinea pig; and Carlos Echeverria, the turncoat DEA agent who keeps Bean up on what the good guys are doing. Looks like the unlegged Thorn and his self-described fiancÇe, plucky Monica Sampson, have their work cut out for them. If you can overlook Thorn's preening for the Hemingway Attitude award, there's lots of expert action and some entertaining pop psychology here, without the overblown self- importance that sank Buzz Cut (1996). (Author tour)