cover image Rough Draft

Rough Draft

James W. Hall. St. Martin's Press, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20383-2

Veteran thriller master Hall (Body Language) exhibits a new dimension in this latest suspense novel. His intrepid protagonist Thorne conspicuously absent, he again features a female protagonist. Five years ago, beleaguered Miami police detective and single mom Hannah Keller was closing in on J.J. Fielding, a banker/money launderer for the Cali drug cartel. But when agents got close to nabbing Fielding, he disappeared with $463 million in embezzled cash. Meanwhile, Keller and her loving parents were about to celebrate her big break; she'd just sold her first mystery novel for a sizable sum. Her happiness turned to horror when she discovered her mother and her father, a former U.S. Attorney, dead--assassinated gang-style by killers leaving Fielding's ""calling card"" and a sole witness, Keller's then six-year-old son, Randall. The case has remained unsolved since. Now, Miami FBI agents Frank Sheffield and Helen Shane are out to capture the man who murdered a U.S. senator's daughter. They're sure that the killer is Hal Bonner, hired gun for the Cali cartel, and they decide to use Keller and her son as decoys to capture Bonner. Meanwhile, looking for revenge is Fielding's disturbed daughter, Hooters' employee, Misty. Filled with rage at her father's disappearance, she's determined to kill young Randall. In a creepy plot twist, Keller finds a copy of her first novel marked with scribblings that contain a code, possibly from Fielding himself. Solid suspense builds as the FBI, Misty and Hal chase Keller in choppers, cars and UPS vans. An expert creator of grotesque villains and fast action, former poet Hall raises the crossbar with his sensitive insights into the human condition. (Jan.)