A poet as well as a thriller writer, Hall (Gone Wild, etc.) brings an ear for language and an eye for the evocative detail, for the surge of meaning within sound and surface, to his latest‘which features his customary hero, the moody, middle-aged Thorn. Reuniting with Thorn here is his old friend Sugarman (last seen in Mean High Tide). Bizarre family dysfunction and impending ecological disaster prove familiar but still effective Hall motifs as Sugar signs on as head of security for a billion-dollar Miami-based cruise ship line and Thorn encounters an unusually chilling adversary. Sugar's task is to catch a chimerical murderer whose victims all have some relationship to the company's gambling flagship, the M.S. Eclipse, from which the criminal has been stealing $50,000 per month. Danger promptly surfaces, as Sugar is nearly killed by the psychopathic Butler Jack, who has stun-gun electrodes attached to his fingertips and who plans to hold the Eclipse and its passengers hostage for a king's ransom. Jack also has designs on Monica Sampson, the long-missing daughter of the cruise line's owner, but Thorn, who winds up aboard the ship along with Sugar, casts eyes toward this young beauty as well. Murder, techno-wizardry and plenty of sexual tension ignite into spectacular action as Jack sets the ship on a collision course toward an oil-laden supertanker off Miami's South Beach. The title is right on; this thriller will slice readers' sleep into slivers. (July)
Hall's best-selling series featuring the reclusive Thorn (e.g., Mean High Tide, Audio Reviews, LJ 11/1/94) gets better and better with each installment. Here, Thorn comes to the aid of his pal Sugarman, who is injured while working as security chief on a cruiseship. A brilliant psychopath is stalking passengers and crew on the huge oceanliner, and Thorn and Sugarman must locate him amid acres and acres of decks, cabins, and partying vacationers. Will Patton again proves why he's the best male reader on the abridged audio circuit today; his twangy, almost jeering voice is perfectly matched to Hall's dark humor and quirky characters. Unfortunately, the story may have been better served in a longer format‘four cassettes/six hours rather than two/three‘and listeners who haven't read the print version may find themselves scratching their heads as action upon action scene skitters past. Still, Patton's reading alone nearly justifies purchase. Recommended for large popular collections. Look for an unabridged edition from Recorded Books, with Frank Muller as reader, in late August.‘Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"