Living in the “shadowy world” has always worked well for Thorn, the taciturn hero making his 14th appearance in James W. Hall’s series. Living in a “primitive cracker house” in Key Largo, scraping out a living by tying bonefish flies, Thorn’s mellow persona hides the violence that can rear when he or his friends are threatened.
Being a loner has suited him fine, but Thorn has recently discovered he has a grown son, and that solitary life suddenly looks empty. He and Flynn Moss don’t have much of a relationship. Flynn grew up without a father and wasn’t interested in having Thorn fill that role. But Flynn is impressed by Thorn’s “latent ferocity,” which the young man thinks will be useful to him in his role as a member of the eco-terrorist group Earth Liberation Front.
The crux of the relationship between Thorn and Flynn fuels the gripping, action-packed Big Finish. While Hall’s novels have always made good use of Florida’s intricate ecology and beauty, this novel is more about the kind of man Thorn is — and what sort of father he could be.
Flynn has been sending Thorn a series of unsigned postcards, but when the latest correspondence contains the words “help,” Thorn and his best friend Sugarman take off for Pine Haven, North Carolina, where Flynn’s group has targeted a factory hog farm that is polluting the area. But the rescue is complicated by the appearance of FBI agent Madeline Cruz, who has other plans.
Hall’s affinity for odd yet believable villains shines in The Big Finish, from an ex-con who calls himself X-88 and his odd girlfriend, Pixie, to the Pine Haven sheriff — and farmer — Webb Dobbins and his sister, Laurie.
Brisk pacing keeps the tension high with each twist and turn and continues to show new sides of Thorn, whom he has been writing about since his 1987 debut, Under Cover of Daylight. He delivers another solid story with The Big Finish.
Oline H. Cogdill reviewed this book for The Sun Sentinel.
Meet the author
Who: James W. Hall.
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables.
Info: www.booksandbooks.com, 305-444-9044.