Review: Semi-retired Key Largo private investigator Thorn is unwillingly drawn into a case of corporate intrigue when he's kidnapped by a pair of rogue brothers looking to make a killing (as it were) in Silencer, the 11th mystery in this series by James W. Hall.
Thorn has recently inherited the bulk of Bates International, a private company, from a grandmother he didn't know he had, but wants little to do with it. His lady friend Rusty Stabler, however, has taken a position with the company, and seizes on an opportunity to do something good for the state of Florida: transfer 200,000 acres of unspoiled land to the west of Lake Okeechobee to the state for preservation. It's a complicated arrangement as the land doesn't belong to Bates, but rather to the owners of Coquina Ranch; it's being exchanged for Bates land near the Peace River, for which the state is paying over $500 million, which will immediately be signed over by Thorn to the ranch owners. But things take an unexpected turn when the ranch owner is shot and killed by a ranchhand and Thorn is taken hostage. Someone clearly does not want the transaction to be completed, but who — and why — is unknown to all parties involved.
The pacing of Silencer is perfect for a suspense thriller, the tension being assuredly notched up with each succeeding chapter. A considerable number of well-drawn characters are introduced, some obviously the "good guys", some deeply disturbed "bad", but most in the gray area in-between that will keep readers guessing on which side they'll ultimately fall. Though Thorn has a pivotal role in the book's premise, he plays a relatively minor role in the story, being kept captive — for reasons he doesn't understand and by men that to him have no obvious link to the real estate transaction — most of the time on a wild game ranch in the middle of nowhere.
Mirroring to some extent the character of Thorn, the underlying theme of the book is one of tree-hugging anti-capitalism, which, in and of itself, wouldn't be an issue except that the author gets a little preachy on the subject at the end, even including (as fact within the context of the plot) the urban myth surrounding National City Lines into the story. Still, given the overall strength of the intricately crafted plot, Silencer is an intensely satisfying thriller that is strongly recommended.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Silencer for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), December 2013
ISBN-13: 9781250005007; ISBN-10: 1250005000
Location(s) referenced in Silencer: Florida
— ♦ —
Silencer by James W. Hall — A Thorn Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: January 2010
List Price: $24.99
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites