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Hell's Bay (Thorn Mystery #10)

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  434 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews

Master of suspense James W. Hall’s Hell’s Bay sends Thorn deep into the wilds of South Florida, in a story with all the haunting atmosphere of Deliverance and the sheer terror of Cape Fear.

Descended from pioneer stock, the Bateses are an aristocratic Floridian family with vast holdings in real estate and mining. When matriarch Abigail Bates is discovered drowned in t

Hardcover, 306 pages
Published February 5th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published 2008)
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Jun 10, 2010 John rated it really liked it
James W. Hall is one of my favorite "light" reads. Nothing complex here, just a good basic writer with a nice protagonist who happens to see the world the way I do most of the time. A guy who wants to do the right thing (whatever that is) but isn't in search of things to do right. You either know what I mean or you don' worries.

In any case, Thorn and his sidekick Sugarman are into another adventure not of their choosing (sort of) and, as usual, things have not turned out quite as planned.
Pat Harris
Aug 18, 2012 Pat Harris rated it liked it
Well, I do like James W Hall but I got about a third of the way thru and realized I had read it previously. Since the book was only published in 2008, it must not have made a tremendous impression. But I was going thru difficult times then so will give James the benefit of the doubt.
Jan 15, 2010 Ed rated it it was amazing
Thorn is a Florida outdoorsman who does rough stuff on the side, but you root for him to come out on top. He's in the mold of Travis McGee, but Mr. Hall's prose is richer than JDM's. Enjoyable tale of a fishing vessel marooned in the Everglades with a maniacal lady killer stalking it.
Jul 11, 2009 Gary rated it really liked it
Her mission was simple. Good death, noble death, useful death, taking as many with her as possible. Find out whose side God was on.
- Hell’s Bay, p. 208

For the past twenty years, Florida has been a breeding ground for detective fiction. Edna Buchanan, Carl Hiassen and the late Charles Williford are highly successful writers who seem to draw inspiration from Florida’s heady mixture of retirement communities, drug cartels, violence, hurricanes and shady real estate ventures. Shortly before his dea
Derek Dowell
Nov 15, 2011 Derek Dowell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About ten years ago, I stumbled across a little book called Buzz Cut from some guy named James W. Hall. Picked it up cheap at a used book store because the blurb on the back mentioned the Florida Keys and I'm a sucker for any plot that dips south of Miami. I remember liking it well enough, though not being particularly blown away at first but, after finishing, pondered the story in the days that followed. Unlike most of Dorsey and Hiaasen's creations, whom I love dearly, the character of Thorn h ...more
John Hood
Jul 12, 2008 John Hood rated it it was amazing

Bound Thursday, Feb. 28, 08

Fishing Expedition

In James W. Hall’s Hell’s Bay, somebody’s gonna get bit

By John Hood

Here’s the setup: An iron-hard dame and her recalcitrant ex-lover pilot a tricked-out houseboat into the thick of the Everglades’ still surprisingly primordial 10,000 islands. On the craft: the dame’s slow-witted brother (who happens to be a master chef); a blowhard captain of industry and his cantankerous daughter (who happen to be at each others
Paul Pessolano
Feb 06, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it liked it
Just when you think its safe to go into the water.

There are many writers who use the State of Florida as the locale for their mysteries. A few that come to mind are; Randy Wayne White, Tim Dorsey, and Carl Hiaasen. You may now add James W. Hall to your list.

Although this is the first book I have read by him, he has over 10 novels to his name and most are centered in the Florida area.

Phosphate mining has always been an enviormental problem for Florida. The problems are manifested in the revenue c
May 18, 2009 Willa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2009
There's something comforting to me about reading a new book in a familiar series. I thought this was one of the better "Thorn" novels by James W. Hall. The villain is apparent right from the start, oh wait, there are several villains--one is the woman (an ex-miliary soldier) who is stalking our hero and his fishing party, and the other, larger villain is a corporation who is killing, and has killed, more people than the soldier will get rid of in this outing.

The soldier's husband died of lung ca
Jul 20, 2011 Jan rated it really liked it
A murder mystery set in the feral Florida Keys wildernness, flawed characters, might versus right, and a hint of romance make Hell's Bay a good read and a fast paced thriller.
A huge company, run by an 86 year old wealthy Florida matron,is not taking care of its' waste and cancer caused by this waste is killing off people. A woman,Sasha, who has lost her husband and is losing her son to cancer, caused by this company's uncaring policies, is the murderer. We know this right from the start. Down t
Pamela Small
Apr 26, 2013 Pamela Small rated it really liked it
With each novel,James Hall demonstrates he is a master of synthesizing beautiful, lyrical prose concurrently with an edge-of-your-seat, stay-up-all-night thriller.

An example of the superior ability of this author's craft: "The Florida Bay spread out to the western horizon as flat and motionless as a slab of burnished silver. The red disk of sun had dissolved halfway behind the distant mangrove islands and was sending flares of green and blue into the cloudless heavens."

"The slate sky started to
Jun 19, 2008 Icicle4 rated it really liked it
This one got a little crazy toward the end, but was still good. Lots of nature in these Hall books. I think the author has an environmentalist bent kind of like John D. McDonald who wrote the Travis McGee books also set in Florida. The character Doc Ford in the Randy Wayne White books is similar to Travis McGee in the McDonald books. The books are fun, but seem kind of dated now. The McGee books all have a color in the title like "The Quick Red fox". Wikipedia has a good write-up if you Google T ...more
Jul 30, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
Excellent suspense with Thorn and Sugarman in a race to avert a vendetta as they work in separate but converging spheres in south Florida. The corporate evil this time lies with the phospate mining barons, and the environmental impact of their industry is highlighted as a backdrop to this character-driven tale. Plenty of twists abound as characters show their true colors under duress, in this case the set of fishing trip guests aboard a houseboat which gets disabled and besieged in a remote part ...more
Sep 15, 2010 Greg rated it it was ok
I haven't read the previous books of the series and my low rating may be a reflection of this fact because the characters felt one dimensional. The book switches from third person narrative to bad first person narrative when the main character is around; I found this switch annoying and unnecessary. How did the large boulder find itself on a Florida river? Florida isn't Colorado. The book would probably translate better to TV and this could function as a plot for a Miami Vice in retirement episo ...more
Apr 06, 2010 Alice rated it it was amazing
I met James W. Hall at a writing conference in Seaside, Florida, a few years ago. He taught several of the conference's workshops and was interesting, witty and helpful. As a result, I went home and read several of his books and loved them. I don't know why, but I didn't read his books for a while (just busy, I guess), but I was pleasantly surprised to discover he has grown even better in his writing with this book, and I think that's unusual for a published writing to experience that sort of gr ...more
Geoff Sebesta
May 15, 2011 Geoff Sebesta rated it really liked it
I was trying not to read this book because I wanted to read a different book instead but this was so compulsively easy to consume that I couldn't help myself. As crime novels go it's a good one, with a fascinating setting, a bunch of characters who feel like they're part of a series but stand alone well enough, and a lot of neat little details along the way. I like that the book is written with such an ecological slant but the bad guys are crazy ecoterrorists. The whole thing is airport novel fu ...more
Mar 21, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it
#10 in the Thorn series. Florida beach bum Thorn lives off the grid and earns some money crafting highly prized bonefish flies. Periodically he gets called upon to right a wrong.

#10 - Thorn agrees to crew for ex-lover Rusty on a trip to fish hidden Everglades lakes. Their first customers include a man and his daughter who introduce themselves as Thorn's uncle and cousin. Cousin Mona tells Thorn that the death of their wealthy grandmother was murder. Friend Sugarman agrees to look into the old la
Bernard Mcdonnell
What can I say. Thorn is an unlikely protagonist in these books set in Florida. What a rich and diverse and perverse culture to draw inspiration from for this book.

This is indeed light reading and clean fiction. Nothing complicated...OK with me as far too many books on my list are somewhat complicated.

I'll keep reading them as I find myself drawn to the writing with subtleties of the characters interactions and the action which moves in a brisk manner to an obvious conclusion.

Jun 03, 2012 Rhonda rated it really liked it
Shelves: hall-james
James W. Hall's series about Thorn are fun books to read. This one is set in Sarasota and the Florida Keys, two of my favorite places. Thorn always gets his man(or woman)and it is always interesting to see how. There is some insight on the phosphate mining atrocities in Florida, how some people are driven to madness over their situations, and how friendships can change lives.
Jul 22, 2009 Mandy rated it it was ok
i just picked this up at the library without knowing anything about the book or the author. I will not be reading any more from this author. I figured out what was going on and who did the crime before it was made known in writing. I like books that are more twisted int he plot so I don't figure it out so quickly. Also, a lot of foul language.
Feb 24, 2012 Kris rated it really liked it
Billionaire Abigail Bates is murdered while trying decide the fate of a small town in Florida whose children are dying of cancer at an amazing rate. The phosphate mining in the area is the suspected culprit. Thorn becomes involved when confronted by Abigail's son and granddaughter, whom he learns are his relatives.
Mar 05, 2012 Monica rated it really liked it
I discovered James W. Hall years ago. Like Carl Hiassen, his thrillers take place in Florida and often have ecology as a theme. He has a very appealing main character, Thorn, a somewhat reclusive fly tieing macho guy. I think Hall is terrific.
Feb 25, 2008 Joyce rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adults or older teens
Recommended to Joyce by: Browsing
You learn who did it by Chapter Two... and can't wait to find out the whys and wherefores. Very well-written, with a taut plot and characters that hold your interest. There are enough twists and turns to make it even more riveting. I will read more of his books.
Eric Orkin
Oct 02, 2013 Eric Orkin rated it really liked it
First of the Thorn series for me. In some ways the most enjoyable. Each stands on its own so it is not really necessary to read in sequence. As a lover of southwestern FL, I really enjoy the way Hall captures the beauty of the landscape, the fauna, and the culture of south FL.
Jul 16, 2012 Karen rated it liked it
I liked the book but it took me along time to read. I'm not sure if that was because of the small print and my eyes or if the action just wasn't quick enough for me. Loved the setting, books written about places I lived (Keys in this case) always add to the story.
Andrew Carter
Jan 16, 2016 Andrew Carter rated it it was amazing
Great story, well told. I really like Hall's books. Thorn, Hall's central character, reminds me of Lucas Davenport in the John Sandford books....rugged, individualistic, and charismatic. Write some more and bring them on.
Nov 18, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: florida-fiction
Set partially in backwater Florida, Hall's well evoked setting was very familiar to me. It's not often I find a thriller writer whose prose has me stopping and rereading lines for their simple beauty.
Sep 17, 2009 Rick rated it liked it
About a 3.5. We need a 10 point system instead of just the five!
Jan 18, 2010 Marcia is currently reading it
I love James Hall's books. I discovered this author a few years ago and have read all his books. I guess part of the lure is that they all take place in Florida where I use to live.
Apr 07, 2011 Dale rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Solid Florida Keys suspense read.
Feb 13, 2012 Ann rated it really liked it
Thorn story takes place on a houseboat in the Everglades. I ended up reading this again in 2011.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James Wilson Hall is an Edgar and Shamus Award-winning author whose books have been translated into a dozen languages. He has written eighteen novels, four books of poetry, a collection of short stories, and a collection of He also won a John D. MacDonald Award for Excelle
More about James W. Hall...

Other Books in the Series

Thorn Mystery (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Under Cover of Daylight (Thorn, #1)
  • Tropical Freeze (Thorn, #2)
  • Mean High Tide (Thorn, #3)
  • Gone Wild (Thorn, #4)
  • Buzz Cut (Thorn, #5)
  • Red Sky at Night (Thorn, #6)
  • Blackwater Sound (Thorn, #7)
  • Off the Chart (Thorn, #8)
  • Magic City (Thorn, #9)
  • Silencer (Thorn, #11)

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