This is the fourteenth (and the last, according to author Hall) of the series featuring Thorn, a moody, volatile loner type living in the Florida Keys, sparsely subsisting on the income he makes from tying fishing flies. To say Thorn finds trouble without looking for it is like saying Lady GaGa attracts bad clothes just walking down the street. A list of the Thorne books in order.
The first half dozen Thorn novels are outstanding examples in the sub genre which we now call “Florida crime fiction” – whose most notable practitioners are John D. MacDonald, Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen. Rich in atmosphere, and populated with greedy developers, drug dealers, hookers, crusty old salts, and various other assorted lowlifes, every Thorn novel is a mini-vacation to south Florida.
One of the strengths of the books is that author Hall allowed Thorn to age; he’s not as tough as he used to be and the world is changing around him at a bewildering rate which he is loathe to keep pace with. But as the series moved toward books #10 and onward, the books began to feel slightly half-hearted.
This time around the (more than usual) convoluted plot concerns eco-terrorists, Thorn’s son (who he has only realized he had) and an unbelievable former FBI agent villain so inept it’s no wonder she didn’t remain a Federal agent. The only character who stands out is an ex-con enforcer named X-88 whose sense of smell is otherworldly and whose ruminations about death and his medical condition are (by far) the entertaining parts of the story.
Sadly, The Big Finish is anything but … It is a weak ending for a great series of novels that should be read by anyone who enjoys modern crime fiction. I highly recommend you go start with the first Thorn book, Under Cover of Daylight and keep going through the rest of the books, but I warn you, the big finish is disappointing and tiny. Maybe because Mr. Hall had raised readers expectations with so many great books before …