Friday, April 18, 2014

Review of Tropical Freeze by James W. Hall (1989, WW Norton)

Thorn tries to live a quiet life on Key Largo, scraping out a living as a fishing guide and doing odd jobs, but trouble has a habit of finding him.  In this case, trouble manifests itself through his childhood friend, Gaeton Richards, a former FBI agent, and his weather-broadcaster sister, Darcy.  Gaeton is working for former DEA agent, Benny Cousins, who is now running a business smuggling wanted criminals from other countries into the US and giving them new identities, and has ambitions to run the Keys as his private kingdom.  Darcy is the lustful focus of Ozzie, a trailer trash lowlife with a short fuse, little brains and ambitions to be a country singer.  When Ozzie escalates from stalking to actively pursuing Darcy and Gaeton turns up dead, Thorn is drawn into protecting Darcy and seeking the truth and justice with regards to her brother’s death.  It soon puts him on a collision course with Benny Cousins, who seems to settle all his skirmishes with deadly violence.

Tropical Freeze is the second book in the Thorn series set in and around the Florida Keys.  There’s much to like about the story - the characterisation, sense of place, and quick moving plot.  Thorn is the classic loner, lonely, hard man drawn to the beautiful and determined, Darcy Richards, who is stalked by the slightly crazy, Ozzie, and whose brother works for the megalomaniac Benny Cousins.  They inhabit the backwaters of the Florida Keys, with its rundown shacks and trailers nestled amongst the millionaire mansions and strip mall development.  Hall places the reader in this landscape, evoking a slightly seedy atmosphere that mixes laidbackness and lawlessness.  The edgy plot rattles along, with plenty of tension and understated action sequences.  There’s not much in the way of reveals or twists as Hall’s style is to tell aspects of the story from different perspectives, which works well.  Where the story suffers a little is with respect to plausibility, especially with respect to the Benny Cousin’s plotline and Thorn’s heroic exploits.  However, if one can suspend one’s belief a little, then Tropical Freeze is an entertaining and atmospheric yarn.


BVLawson said...

Rob, I'm hosting Friday's Forgotten Books today for Patti Abbott, but unfortunately Typepad (which hosts my blog) had a denial of service attack and is down. They are working to fix it ASAP, so please so stay tuned. My apologies - I'll put up the links when things are back to normal + they'll be up all weekend (and beyond). If necessary, Todd Mason has offered to stand in. I'll let you know one way or the other.

BVLawson said...

Okay, I think we (as in Typepad) are back in business. Here's the direct FFB link:

If you see any errors or omissions, please let me know in the comments or via