cover image Bones of Coral

Bones of Coral

James W. Hall. Alfred A. Knopf, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40017-2

Shaw Chandler, a 30-something paramedic with the Miami fire department, returns to his home in the Keys to come to terms with the suspicious circumstances of his father's suicide. Meanwhile Trula Montoya, his high school sweetheart and once a Manhattan soap opera star, has also returned--to decide what to do with the rest of a life blighted by the onset of MS. Shaw and Trula eventually realize a link between local deaths--of the natural and unnatural varieties--and are drawn deeply into danger as they begin to unravel biological warfare, a cover-up and a double murder involving both of their fathers 20 years before. The dynamic and romantic duo are truly nice people (and well-drawn characters) who deserve a happy ending, but the rest of Hall's ( Tropical Freeze ) cast is an unsavory bunch: not only does Douglas Barnes, still reaping the financial rewards from his part in the evil business, kill with cruel pleasure, but his deranged, foul-mouthed son Dougie tries to win his respect by acting as his hatchet man. By the time the homicidal pair receives its just deserts--in a fast-paced life-and-death struggle in a garbage disposal factory--the body count is as high as the surf. Literary Guild alternate; author tour. (Mar.)