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Dead Last (Thorn Mystery #12)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  335 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews

From an acclaimed “master of suspense”(New York Times Book Review) comes a thriller in which Thorn must confront an assassin whose victims and methods are taken directly from the script of a popular TV show

April Moss writes obituaries for the Miami Herald.  Her son, Sawyer, also a writer, has been scripting a cable TV series called “Miami Ops” and has been using his mothe

Hardcover, 326 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by Minotaur Books
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Gloria Feit
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have come late to this author’s books, of which there have sixteen between 1987 and today, many of them in the series whose protagonist is Daniel Oliver Thorn, “the man from Key Largo” known simply as Thorn, whose well-deserved reputation is that of someone “going off the rails at warp speed.” As this most recent book in the series opens, Thorn is drawn into the investigation of serial murders committed by a person dubbed as “the obit killer,” with the police believing that the killer, who lea ...more
Cathy DuPont
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thorn followers only
I remember picking up my first James W. Hall book, and the first book about Daniel Oliver Thorn. I gave it four stars.

Ended up reading everything Jim Hall has written, even his poetry. Met him and talked with him last September in St. Augustine at a writer's conference and he's such an amiable and witty fellow. Just a real nice guy, so it really bothers me that I can't give this book better than two stars.

Thorn (and Hall) has come full circle in his more than 20 year career; losing his parents
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like a mystery expressed beautifully.
Recommended to Richard by: I am trying to read all Mr. Hall's work.
This has an interesting twist of a serial killer copying a TV series. There are lots of twists that keep you guessing. The story is straightforward, with various points of view informing us of the different aspects of the progress.

There are so many passages where the language is beautifully expressed, I would suggest Mr. Hall's work be used as an example in classes of how to write American English.
Nov 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: a-z-titles-2015
More like 3.5 stars.
I am really burned out on Hall books. The author himself lays out why his protagonist "Thorn" is such a pain in the ass: " Thorn's wife Rusty dies quickly of pancreatic cancer. He lights a bonfire and destroys his material life (good clear thinking.) The Sheriff, Buddha, lays it out for him,"

"You're getting old and predictable. You're rash and brash, you're old and slow." "You've been living off the grid since before there was a grid," You've punched the ticket for at least half a dozen people o
Jennifer Collins
When I first fell in love with James Hall's work, I didn't really know good writing from bad, at least not in any way I could put to words, but I did recognize his beautiful and suspenseful depiction of one of my favorite places (the Florida Keys), and I also fell in love--from the very beginning--with his fascinating characters, particularly Thorn. Now, more than a decade later, I can say that Hall's books are not only suspenseful and drawn with fascinating and believable characters, but that t ...more
Fred Forbes
Many moons ago, late 80's, I believe, I was on a business trip to South Florida and hanging in one of my favorite stores - Books and Books. A man was standing by a counter and a clerk was pointing to a display of paperbacks that had just come in and been set up. "Pure trash!", the clerk said, "How do they expect us to sell any of this crap?" The man he was speaking to was James Hall, and the book in question was "Under Cover of Daylight", Hall's first novel featuring the Thorn character. After t ...more
Paul Pessolano
“Dead Last” by James W. Hall, published by Minotaur Books.

Category – Mystery/Thriller

If you have read any of James W. Hall’s books you know that his novels take place in Florida and that his main character is Daniel Oliver Thorn. Thorn is off the grid and is his “own man”. He has been never known to play by the rules, either in his personal life or when he has to socialize. He is a solitary individual and seeks companionship only on his terms. He does have a few friends, but these can be counted
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James W. Hall has written at least twelve books about Thorn, the reclusive swamp bum, fisherman, and fly-tier whose involvement in deadly matters is ongoing. Hall writes well about Florida, which is unsurpassed as a scene for crime given the pervasive corruption and violence that seems to mark the state's twentieth-century history. He writes very well about minor characters, some of whom he kills off, and produces interesting human monsters as Thorn's opponents. He provides Thorn with some inter ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, florida
Is anybody harder on his fictitious heroes than James W Hall is on Thorn? He's married for a month and his wife dies of cancer. Naturally, since it's Thorn, this is only the beginning of his problems in this book. A mysterious woman shows up from Oklahoma and informs her that his wife's aunt has been murdered and that the obituary written for his wife was found at the scene of the crime as a clue. Throughout the book, Thorn makes difficult personal discoveries and takes at least one physical bea ...more
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Novels and TV shows, especially TV shows taken from novels, often have a mutually corrosive effect. For example, “Justified” is good TV, but RAYLON by the character’s originator is a silly knockoff of last season’s plotlines. “Dexter” on Showtime is better TV, but it has departed so far by now from the even better series of novels by Jeff Lindsay that it’s confusing keeping them separated.

DEAD LAST suffers from being too much about a silly TV show, albeit a fictional one that sounds perfect in i
Dec 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-florida
It's been a few years since I have read one of James Hall's Thorn" novels and I was glad to find this one, his latest. What a character Thorn is. His past catches up to him in this thriller, good and bad both. Great characters and a wild, twisting plot. If you enjoy this character, you definitely have to go back and read his earlier stories.

Here is one example why I LIKE this Thorn guy..There is a scene where another cop pulls out there
I-PAD and Thorn looks over, watching and says/thinks...."Wh
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has been some time since I read one of James Hall's novels, and I enjoyed this one very much. It is quite a bit different than the previous novels in the Thorn series. In various states, people are being murdered, and the killer leaves a printed obituary of someone else at the scene of the crime. The only common denominator is that the obituaries have all been written by the same woman. To complicate matters further, this lady has twin sons, one of whom is an actor in a series where one of th ...more
Vince Gotera
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
James W. Hall's mystery Dead Last is the best Thorn novel yet. Hall is wonderfully adept at creating deliciously scary villains and that's certainly true in this book. Hall also has succeeded again in making Thorn's daily life even more interesting ... an intriguing turn of events here that will amaze even the most faithful Thorn fans. Can't say more without giving out spoilers. As usual, also, Hall's descriptions of Florida nature are beautiful and lyrical. And, for you fans of the poem "Maybe ...more
Rodger Campbell
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of James W. Hall since I read "Under Cover of Daylight" in 1987. His main character Thorn, is a dropout from society with a strong sense of ecological concern and a prediliction for getting himself into scrapes. This book is about a serial killer who Thorn ends up tracking through some very unusual situations. At the opening of the book, Thorn loses the love of his life, Rusty Stabler, to cancer. The loss causes him to drop completely out of life, give away or burn his possession ...more
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really hope that this series hasn't jumped the shark. I have enjoyed Hall's books and the characters of Thorn, Sugarman and Rusty, for years. Until now. The plot of this one is full of gimmicks and ultimately unsatisfying, and the characters involved in it, with the sole exception of the young sheriff Buddha Hilton, run the gamut from unattractive to downright repulsive.

At least the Florida stuff is still excellent - Hall can write with the best, but all the best of this book is the landscape.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#12 in the Thorn series.

Thorn mourns the sudden death of his new wife, Rusty Stabler, by burning his possessions. Then Buddha Hilton, the 19-year-old sheriff of Starkville, Okla., arrives to ask for Thorn's help. Rusty's aunt, Michaela Stabler, has been stabbed to death in Starkville; Rusty's Miami Herald obituary was placed beside Michaela's body. The juxtaposition of clipping and corpse mimics a TV drama, Miami Ops, which employs the twin sons of the obituary's writer, April Moss, whom Thorn
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Florida mystery gives reclusive Thorn the opportunity to repair some of the past damage he has done. The mystery is convoluted so keep a notepad nearby to help you remember the characters. There are surprises throughout but I predicted the killer from almost the beginning. Maybe Hall is just getting too predictable. Nonetheless, I loved the Florida atmosphere and the great presentation of Thorn.
Rabid Readers Reviews
I really enjoy James W. Hall's Thorn series and I wanted to enjoy this one more than I did. In this book Thorn is once again taken away from Key West to the Big City where he's faced with the kind of killer only the Big City has. He's forced to face his past after a tragic loss while helping to solve a crime. I found a lot of things too easy and some of the plot twists a little...unlikely. This is great to read in the course of the series but don't start with this one.
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another enjoyable entry in the Thorn series from Hall, this time centered in Miami with Thorn being dragged into an investigation of a possible copycat killer based on his relationship with Rusty and other factors that are revealed as the story progresses. Not much Sugarman in this one (alas) but the story is well-written as always and the interplay among the characters is smart and often humorous. If you are a fan of the Thorn series, you should enjoy this one.
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
From Cape Elizabeth Library and had already read. Twin boys involved in making a movie where director and his daughter are bad guys and detective has just buried love of his life.....woman police officer from West with tatoos. OK but not great. probably read others but only cause i'm having trouble finding Mankell or Rankin.
Nov 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: florida-fiction
While Thorn is far and away my favorite of the post-Travis McGee protagonists, it does feel like the series has run its course. Although the setting was rife with opportunities for character development everyone felt a little flat this time through. Still, a fun read and I'm sad that there's only two more books to go.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Steve by: Library
Thorn seems to have matured some, at least since I last read one of Hall's books in this series.

Though more mature, he still seems to get into all kinds of trouble without really trying.

Was a good quick read. The only reason I picked it up at the library, is because I knew it was going to be something I could lose myself in for a few hours.
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Hall is about my 6th favorite mystery author and this one is among his best. When you've read 1000 mysteries, it's hard to get surprised by plot twists, but he surprised me twice during this novel. As always, beautifully clear and grammatical prose, interesting characters, and Thorn, not very sane, but likable.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
disgusted when the freshest, most interesting character is brutally murdered less that half-way through--no reason to continue--the rest is boring storyline with stock characters. first and last of this series.
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: florida, private-eye
I just spent a week in Sanibel and ate at Doc Fords three times. I felt I was cheating on my other Florida author who is perhaps the better of the two and got this book. It was great and he introduced an amazing character. Exciting and intriguing and poignant also.
Tom Hicks
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read all of James W. Hall's books and they are all excellent. Thorn is a character who you want to be like although he seems to have a lot of bad luck at times. But he pulls it all together and solves the mystery and this has a twist to it. Nice book, read it. Cheers.
Foster Winter
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting twists and turns. My first "Thorn" book and while he's a bit over the top, I'll go for another one. In fact, as the story neared its conclusion, I found myself in a "can't put it down" mode.
Stacy Bearse
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

I've enjoyed all books in the Thorn series. This isn't the best one. But author James Hall is the best of the Florida crime fiction writers, and if you like that genre, you'll enjoy this book.
Maryellen Woodside
A serial killer is imitating the killer in a TV series. Thorn is reeling from the death of his wife, Rusty. Now he finds himself trying to catch a killer while coming to terms with some other life changing news. Hall's fans will love this book!
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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)
  • Hell's Bay (Thorn, #10)

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