cover image Under Cover of Daylight: James W. Hall

Under Cover of Daylight: James W. Hall

James W. Hall, Jim Hall. W. W. Norton & Company, $16.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-393-02484-5

Setting his suspense story in the Florida Keys, Hall, who is also a poet, makes place and climate as important as character in building the powerful effect of this accomplished novel. As he weaves themes of revenge and passion, loss and attachment, he fashions a mystery that in lesser hands could be contrived but here takes shape with the inevitability of truth. Thorn was an infant when his parents died in a senseless car crash; he was 19 when he killed the man who, as a reckless teenager, caused their deaths. In the 20 years since that act, he has lived in a shack on Key Largo, tying bonefish flies for a living and trying to come to terms with his guilt. Then he meets Sarah Ryan, a young prosecuting attorney, and she begins to draw him out, involving him in the fight against uncontrolled development of the Keys that she wages with Kate, Thorn's foster mother. When Kate is found murdered on her charter fishing boat, Thorn leaves his cave for good. A progressively crazy hired killer and a complicated land acquisition scheme, Kate's murder and others that follow, who Sarah really is, and what secrets she and Thorn will keep or tell keep this complex story together until its dramatic, satisfying resolution. Throughout, Hall's characters, people of heart and soul with real-life combinations of strengths and flaws, are so sharply evoked as to be almost physically present; the sex scenes, graphic and strong and often lovely, are particularly effective. (October 19)