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Magic City (Thorn Mystery #9)

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  400 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
A novel based on real events and newly declassified documents, Magic City is to Miami what L.A. Confidential and Chinatown were to Los Angeles. It evokes a time in our nation's history when powerful men were willing to do whatever they thought necessary to achieve their goals.

A simple black and white photograph taken during the 1964 Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight on Miami
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Minotaur Books (first published March 2007)
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Kathleen Hagen
Magic City, by James W. Hall, A-minus, Narrated by Richard Allen, produced by Tantor Media, downloaded from

The publisher’s note says that this novel is based in part on real events from recently declassified documents. Thorne, a young man who has spent most of his life on Key Largo or in the Keys, has become attracted to a woman who is a police technician in Miami. He decides to move to Miami and figure out whether he and Alexandra have anything in common. When he gets to Miami, Ale
Jul 30, 2015 Rob1109 rated it it was ok
I’m always on the lookout for new authors I’ve never read before. I recently finished my first James Hall novel, ‘Magic City.’
Will I read a second novel? Perhaps, but not for a while.

Overall, I’m giving this book a rating of a solid 2. There were things I liked and things I didn’t.

5---I give the story itself a solid 5. The plot was something new, not the same ol’ same ol rehashed storyline. It was clever and well-thought out with some plot twists and turns which I like.

3---I’ve always liked no
Nov 26, 2014 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been flippin' yonks since I've read a James W Hall - I think it was Off The Charts was the last one. Did they stop publishing him over here for some reason? The reprobates. Was never a finer writer than Mr W Hall, one of the top Jameses of crime fiction - along with the likes of Lee Burke, Ellroy and Crumley - the unholy quartet of murder and mayhem and marvelous prose.

The inimitable Thorn travels from his snug home ground of the Florida Keys to the bustling and jostling devil's playground
Lourdes Venard
Mar 05, 2010 Lourdes Venard rated it liked it
The reclusive Thorn leaves his home in Key Largo to visit Miami for a few days in this novel. He's prepared to show his commitment to girlfriend Alexandra, taking care of her father Lawton, who has dementia, while she's in police training for a few days. But on the first day, two men try to break into Lawton's house, looking for a photo taken in 1964, during the Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight. The photo is important enough for several people to lose their lives, and Thorn is caught in the middl ...more
John Hood
Jul 12, 2008 John Hood rated it it was amazing

Bound 03/08/07

102 in the Shade
In James W. Hall’s Magic City, Even the Shadows Have Shadows
— and They Burn

Key rats and cops, Cuban ultra-nationalists and paid-for politicos, all with secrets to be kept— or else.

By John Hood

Miami seethes with story. High, low and just plain otherwise. Hot, most of those tales tend to be heated, and, as we all well show, heated very often gets intemperate. Our town’s peculiar place in the sun also requires those stories to be
Jul 30, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
In this 15th out of 17 in his series of suspense-thrillers, Hall is in top form, and this is an excellent read even if you never read the others. Thorn, the off-the-grid fishing "bum" with special survival skills, takes a trial run on living in Miami with his policewoman girlfriend, and shitstorm of trouble lands immediately on his plate. An art exhibition includes a photograph of the audience at the famous Clay-Liston fight in 1964, which raises the violent interest of several parties. All prov ...more
May 11, 2008 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: florida-mystery
GENRE/PUB DATE/# OF PGS: Mystery/2007/308 pgs
SERIES/STAND ALONE: # 9 in the Thorn series
TIME/PLACE: Present/Miami
FIRST LINES: Outside Snake's window a slice of Miami moon hung like the blade of a freshly sharpened scythe.

COMMENTS: 04/27/08 purchase from MOTB. Loved it! Have only read the 1st book in the series & even tho' I loved that one just had not gotten around to reading more. Magic City is the pick for th
Jun 14, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it
#9 in the Thorn series. A visit with Thorn, south Florida off-grid dweller and knight errant is always welcome and satisfying.

Thorn goes to Miami for a week to care for girlfriend Alexandra's father Lawton, who is in the first stages of Alzheimer's. Two brothers try to steal a photograph Lawton owns. A photo of the 1964 Ali-Liston fight, that 40 years after the fact show associations of mobsters, politicians, freedom fighters and the CIA that some are willing to murder to keep forgotten.
Michelle Matthews-Calloway
Aug 28, 2015 Michelle Matthews-Calloway rated it it was amazing
I'm giving this book 5 stars primarily because I loved the prose SO MUCH. This was my first time reading this author, and I was surprised to learn I was so late to the party - there's and entire series of this
Thorn character!!! I'm the type of reader who hates to start something in the middle or near the end, which means I'll be going back to start the Thorn series from the beginning.

Great writing and great story line - I'm definitely going back for more!
Pamela Small
Apr 26, 2013 Pamela Small rated it really liked it
I happened upon this author, and was completely hooked by his mesmerizing lyrical writing style. The setting is farther south of my hometown,Miami. He writes of the beauty of The Everglades and Key Largo, with its lazy, meandering lifestyle, tropical breezes, and breathtaking sunsets. All his books are gorgeously written prose. Couple that with intense suspense and realistic, round characters and it makes for thoroughly satisfying,vivid storytelling. The protagonist, Thorn, is a dark, brooding, ...more
Raul  Palma
Jan 12, 2016 Raul Palma rated it really liked it
I'd forgotten how much I love James W. Hall's novels. He's almost an anthropologist, the way he writes about Miami. I've got to say, the novel's situation seems a bit much, and the novel, perhaps, relies too much on the Cuban-American anti-communism rhetoric, but good fun, and a particularly strong thematic exploration of Miami's urban development as it intersects with the wilderness.
Nov 18, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this. It had been a while (decades) since I last read a Thorn novel and I'm glad I returned. Thorn is a complex character and these novels are never tidy, but always satisfying. The relationships feel real and not simply plot devices. It's been quite some time since I stayed up into the wee hours to finish a book.
Andrew Carter
Feb 02, 2016 Andrew Carter rated it really liked it
Thorn is another one of those great characters, along with Lucas Davenport, Jack Reacher and other similar types. I like stories developed around these characters. This is a very readable book although in the end, the social/love life of Thorn is destroyed within the flow of action of the story.
Jan 30, 2013 Lisa rated it it was ok
It has been a long time since I have read a Thorn book. I can't say that I really cared for this storyline much. The story didn't make much sense to me and was way too complicated and I thought many of the things that happened didn't make a whole lot of sense. It seems like if Thorn would have called the police at the very onset or multiple times throughout, he could have kept a lot of people from getting hurt. I know his character is this laid back guy who stays under the radar but for some rea ...more
Linda Kwiatkowski
May 20, 2016 Linda Kwiatkowski rated it did not like it
didn't finish
Mary Sue
Aug 21, 2008 Mary Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love Florida mysteries
Thorn can't escape violence and mysteries. This novel in the series is one of the best. Fish out of water story of Thorn who makes an effort to try city life in an effort to please his love Alexandra. One day into the trial and he is embroilled in a fast paced mystery involving an old photograph. I liked the story because it is rooted in an actual event. Thorn is Thorn and will never change even if it endangers those he cares about.
May 06, 2010 Jjanovyak rated it it was ok
This book engaged me from the start and moved quickly, but ultimately disappointed. Elements of the plot and characterizations were just too far over the top. So much seemed so promising at the beginning, and Hall really does write so well, but it doesn't amount to much at the end. It's essentially an action movie waiting to be filmed.
Sep 23, 2010 Cyanemi rated it really liked it
Pretty good. I could definitely do without the romance crap. It is just such a waste of time when murder, intrigue and large scale conspiracies are at work. There were a few pages wasted with that stuff, otherwise quite interesting and supposedly based on some real events.
Oct 10, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it
Almost forgot why I read this guy's books; now I remember. Enjoyable mystery thriller set in Miami and the Keys with the usual protagonist, Thorn, trying to figure out why everybody is so interested in a picture from the 1964 Clay-Liston bout in Miami.
Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight in 1964. Five bad people go out later and kill a family. Surviving son wants revenge. Thorn does a lot of illogical and violent things. Pretty good, but a little hard to ignore some ridiculous plot points.
Apr 24, 2012 Rhonda rated it really liked it
Shelves: hall-james
Quick fun read that takes place in the Keys and Miami, with the always enjoyable badass Thorne. This story apparantly is based on some true events, however Thorne is pretty over the top where truth is concerned.
Jan 23, 2011 Bill rated it liked it
This is the first book I've read from this author. It was pleasantly different, with interesting outlooks on the Cuban population in South Florida. The plot has a couple nice twists.
Aug 15, 2013 Glennie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads, florida
Edwin Pope! As a Miami native, I do love it when the little details are correct in the story! Another great suspenseful read.
May 26, 2008 John rated it really liked it
James W. Hall is another of those authors I enjoy just for pure escapism fun. Good plots and interesting characters
Mar 10, 2010 Katie rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. Solid story. Nicely solved mystery. Engaging character. I'd like to read more by this author.
Doctor Sax
Superb novel using real life cuban-exile situations woven into a real page turner...highly recommended!
May 08, 2009 Angie rated it really liked it
Shelves: suspense
Truly suspenseful--short and devastating, for the characters involved and the "true bits."
Laurie Stoll
Jul 30, 2012 Laurie Stoll rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I really liked some of the character's in this book. There were also a few surprises.
Jun 05, 2008 Diane rated it really liked it
Different from most of Hall's work. Based on a true story. Definitely a great read.
Jan 22, 2013 Scout rated it really liked it
3.5 stars Interesting read flavored with nostalgic references to '60s Miami.
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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)
  • Hell's Bay (Thorn, #10)
  • Silencer (Thorn, #11)

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