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5.0 out of 5 stars I truly enjoyed my crow - prepared by a master
I disliked Body Language intensely -- so much so that I wrote a highly uncomplimentary review. Didn't really like the characters, didn't like the plot, and missed Thorn. And now, James Hall has managed to let us know his daughter (Alex) well enough to like her, and brought back son/hero Thorn with more depth, more complexity, and the good sense to know a keeper when he...
Published on April 11 2002 by Joseph Myers

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Too careless
Beign my first Hall/Thorn book, wasn't sure what to expect. Felt that Thorn was too foolish to take seriously. No remorse shown when fellow he recruited was killed. Good college try, though.
Published on Aug. 3 2003 by W. S. Young


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3.0 out of 5 stars Too careless, Aug. 3 2003
By 
W. S. Young (United States of America) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blackwater Sound: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
Beign my first Hall/Thorn book, wasn't sure what to expect. Felt that Thorn was too foolish to take seriously. No remorse shown when fellow he recruited was killed. Good college try, though.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Return of Thorn, Feb. 4 2003
This review is from: Blackwater Sound: A Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
After taking some time off from his series character, James Hall has returned to writing about Thorn, a man who treasures his fierce independence only slightly less than his love of crusades. When last seen, Thorn was recovering from a mad doctor's unnecessary treatments, but now (without any real explanation) he is back to peak health and enjoying the mellow life of fishing, beer and beautiful women.
In this story, his idyllic life is disrupted when a plane crashes while he is out at sea. It soon becomes apparent that this crash was not accidental, but is the result of a dysfunctional family and the nasty weapon they have developed. This also gets Thorn entangled with Alexandra Rafferty, the heroine of Hall's previous novel, Body Language.
For Hall, one of the sharper writers in the field, this is not his best effort. Compared to past novels, his villains this time are only slightly warped and the chemistry between Thorn and Alex is relatively minimal. In addition, Thorn isn't as interesting as in the past, perhaps getting stuck in the rut of many series characters.
Nonetheless, even weaker Hall is entertaining reading, and there is a lot of fun along the way. If you've never read Hall, you'd think this was pretty good crime fiction (and you'll be even happier when you read his other books). If you are a Hall fan, you should find this slightly disappointing, but still a worthwhile read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars SOME UNANSWERED QUESTIONS, Oct. 12 2002
By 
T. A Kelley "kelleyt" (pueblo, colorado United States) - See all my reviews
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I AGREE WITH AT LEAT ONE OTHER REVIEWER THAT YOU ARE LEFT WITH SOME QUESTIONS. I DID LIKE THE DESCRIPTION OF THE FISHING ESPECIALLY IN THE FIRST CHAPTER. BUT I WAS DISAPPOINTED THAT WITHIN THE FIRST 100 PAGES I HAD A PRETTY GOOD IDEA WHAT THE WHOLE STORY WAS ABOUT AND FINISHED THW BOOK TO SEE HOW IT CAME TOGETHER.thE BOOK DID HOLD MY ATTENTION AND WAS A PRETTY FAST READ. THERE ARE A FEW QUESTION I WOULD LIKED CLEARED UP BUT OH WELL. THIS BOOK HAS JUST ABOUT THE DEFINITION FOR DYSFUCTIONAL FAMILY
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2.0 out of 5 stars not for me, July 19 2002
By 
M. S. Butch (Katonah, New York USA) - See all my reviews
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If you like books that are very violent, this may be for you.
If you like books to which the explanation of everything in the plot is, "psychopath" this book may be for you. I hated it. To be fair, in general i hate books where the device to explain an otherwise unbelievable set of characters is: one or more of them is a psychopath, so nothing needs to be explained, he or she is "evil" and could do anything. In addition, the characters are cardboard, the plot, such as it is , is dumb, and the most sympathetic character is a fish.
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3.0 out of 5 stars What happened?, June 18 2002
I'm a huge fan of James Hall's work and have read everything he's published to date except his poetry, and I've only missed that because I can't find it. For me, his strength lies in the balance of characterizations, plot, and description--at his best his prose is truly poetic. Only a few living authors in his genre are his equal; among them I would count Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, and James Burke. That these three, along with Robert Crais (another author whose works I greatly enjoy) wrote complementary reviews for the blurb of Blackwater Sound really whetted my appetite for Hall's latest, and I began it with real anticipation.
One of the Hallmarks (pun fully intended) of Hall's writing is a plot in which big issues are at stake--it's not just a case of solving or preventing a murder; ecological catastrophe, grisly human experimentation or the ownership of Miami are up for grabs. Blackwater Sound is no exception, and this novel concerns an experimental weapon capable of destroying electrical systems at a distance--devastating for airplanes, banks, and in fact most of modern life. Hall's antihero Thorn comes to the rescue--in spite of the fact that in his last appearance (Red Sky at Night) he was suffering from drug-induced paralysis and a gunshot from which we were told he might not fully recover. This crisis, which was so devastating and profound for Thorn, is not even mentioned in passing in Blackwater Sound. Frankly I think we've seen enough of Thorn for a while--although I like him, he's losing his credibility unless he really is a bad-luck magnet; as one of the characters says: "the baddest luck I've ever known."
But the book starts beautifully. Here are the first two sentences: "The marlin was the color of the ocean at twenty fathoms, an iridescent blue, with eerie light smoldering within its silky flesh as if its electrons had become unstable by the cold friction of the sea. A ghostly phosphorescence, a gleaming flash, its large eye unblinking as it slipped into a seam in the current, then rose toward the luminous surface where a school of tuna was pecking at the tiny larvae and crustaceans snagged on a weed line." To me, there's a sense of joy in the language that Hall conveys, and I'm captivated by writing like this.
Inexplicably, though, somewhere along the way the book becomes just another thriller. As other reviewers have mentioned, there is an explosion which is not explained and very subtly set-up {actually the paperback differs from the hardback in that a few lines are added concerning it}, and which propels events in a direction they might not otherwise have taken. Thorn and the female protagonist, Alexandra, fall deeply and suddenly in love most unconvincingly since they have been deeply antagonistic towards one another. One of the minor characters who Thorn enlisted in his aid is killed and there is no fallout whatsoever--Thorn apparently never gives him another thought. And finally, the villain who had acted so coolly throughout the rest of the book comes back for revenge on Thorn with apparently no more of a plan to kill him than to outdraw him. Compare this writing from the end to those gorgeous opening sentences: "He pulled her up in his arms and held her for a moment, both of them watching as Lawton hauled the grouper up from the shallows. The old man bent down and scooped up the fish and turned around, holding up his silver prize with both hands." I do understand that writers may handle words differently at the beginnings of books than they do at the end, but where has the poetry gone, where is the evocative description? The ending seems flat to me; serviceable, but nothing special. Writing literary thrillers is certainly a special challenge and I'm grateful that Hall accepts it; but I hope for a return to his old magic in his next work.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A bit farfetched, but entertaining..., May 19 2002
By 
John R. Linnell (New Gloucester, ME United States) - See all my reviews
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This is Moby Dick light...kind of....however Captain Ahab was a more compelling character than A.J. Braswell even though the whale only took Ahab's leg (at first). This story opens with a giant Marlin taking the life of Braswell's son Tony. The Braswell's we find out much later in the book are a super dysfunctional family which could probably have been the subject of a book all by themselves without bringing Thorn and company into the mix, but what is a James Hall book without Thorn?
Thorn is in the process of breaking up with his naked girlfriend Casey, when an MD-11 airliner is the victim of a product demonstration by Morgan Braswell. The Braswell's failing company has developed some kind of ray gun which shuts of all the electrical systems in it's targets and Ms. Braswell is performing a demo for a potential purchaser. The unlucky MD-11 comes down in Blackwater Sound. In probably the best piece of writing in the book, Thorn is involved in rescue efforts. Events conspire from there on in to draw Thorn into the vortex of the Braswell family along with some other entertaining characters to a somewhat predictable and bloody conclusion. However, Hall always entertains and this is no exception. Not a bad beach read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I truly enjoyed my crow - prepared by a master, April 11 2002
By 
Joseph Myers (Riverside, CA) - See all my reviews
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I disliked Body Language intensely -- so much so that I wrote a highly uncomplimentary review. Didn't really like the characters, didn't like the plot, and missed Thorn. And now, James Hall has managed to let us know his daughter (Alex) well enough to like her, and brought back son/hero Thorn with more depth, more complexity, and the good sense to know a keeper when he has one. The story allows for unbelievable heroism and action, and is written so well that it seems truer than most news programs. Consider my earlier words eaten, with relish.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Mediocrity cruises the Gulf Stream..., March 16 2002
By 
Ian McIntyre (Miami, FL United States) - See all my reviews
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It's about time that Florida readers had a good tale out of that great chain of islands, the Keys. Unfortunately, this latest effort by James W. Hall is not it. Blackwater Sound does not even come close to capturing the atmosphere or place of this part of the world. The characters, with one minor exception, are flat and uninteresting. The protagonist with one name, Thorn, generates little emotional response from the reader.Oh, the tired old formula boy meets girl, girl despises boy, boy and girl finally have steamy sex as girl realizes that boy is indeed a desirable find; that cliche is alive and well here. We have the marlin in the Gulf Stream, ala Mr. Hemingway. Only Mr. Hemingway did it first and much, much better. Hall also seems to want to give his marlin some of the qualities of the white whale, Moby Dick. Here again, apologies may be due to Melville. As I read this book, I kept hoping for something more. Some chapters began in an interesting manner, only to fall apart as I read on, as though the author had more pressing matters elsewhere and had to hurry along. The plot line is thin stuff, and certain events are contrived and unrealistic. With good reading time so valuable, I am sorry that I wasted any on this poorly crafted novel. A far better idea would have been to re-read To Have and Have Not.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Thorn returns, March 2 2002
By 
John Bowes (Oxford, MA USA) - See all my reviews
A revisit by an engaging hero and a meeting with characters from other books, mixed with straight ahead action, make this one enjoyable. Some notable holes in the plot will leave you wondering. What exploded and why in a crucial scene is never explained. But this was fun.
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2.0 out of 5 stars James Hall losing his touch, Feb. 28 2002
By 
Carl Granados (Stuart, FL USA) - See all my reviews
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I used to love James Hall's novels particularly his Thorn novels. With this book and his last few, I think he is losing it. I give this book 2 stars only because I love Thorn and I still have hope for the author.
What's bad. I used to read Hall because of his original and quarky bad guys. I also read him for his use of language (he's also a poet) and imagination. In this book the bad guys don't seem very unusual, the language is that of a dime novel, the coincidences are to many, and certain important events are left unexplained... such as an explosion that plays a key role towards the end of the book.
This novel seem like a novel that was rushed and nobody double checked. It also has lost most of the grit (as have his last two or three books) that made him such a fun read.
I hope Mr. Hall recovers from his roller coaster ride into mediocrity.
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Blackwater Sound: A Novel
Blackwater Sound: A Novel by James W. Hall (Mass Market Paperback - Nov. 18 2002)
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