By James W. Hall
The Hammond family has owned the Coquina ranch, located about an hour north of Miami, for generations. The aging Earl Hammond has made a deal to preserved the land. The arrangement is made through a company owned by a billionaire named Thorn, who spends most of his time selling fishing lures to tourists. Soon after, Earl is murdered, and Thorn is kidnapped. In steps an estranged member of the family, Frisco Hammond, who, with his sister in-law, becomes involved in the investigation. Thorn’s associates also are looking into the matter of their missing boss. Meanwhile, Thorn fights for his life against two deranged assassins. Everybody slowly stumbles toward the truth and a conspiracy that stretches back to the beginning of the Great Depression.
It’s a complex plot with a lot going on throughout. The story is divided into several angles and it takes awhile to realize each angle possesses a snippet of the big picture. At times, it’s difficult to understand where Hall is going with it because he delves heavily into-
Browning Hammond – Six-seven, played college football. He runs the Coquina Ranch and has turned part of it into a private hunting preserve with imported exotic animals.
Frisco Hammond – Browning’s brother. Estranged from the family. He is a Sergeant who takes care of the horses for Miami’s mounted unit.
Claire Hammond – 27, Browning’s wife. General caretaker of the ranch. Getting tired of the type of people who come to hunt.
Thorn – Billionaire. Laid back. His inherited company works to preserve parcels of Florida land from development.
Rusty Stabler – 45, Thorn’s second in command. Takes care of negotiations.
Sugarman – Laid back associate of Thorn’s
Jonah Faust – 26. Works on the ranch, skinny. With his brother he auctions memorabilia from famous murderers while hiring out for contract killings.
Moses Faust – Jonahs older brother. Where Jonah is thin, Moses is physically fit.
Each character is very unique with his or own defined personalities and quirks. Hall gives the reader a lot of background for each character even if they don’t stick around too long in the story. The characters themselves partially drive the story rather than the plot and it’s an interesting mixture if a little confusing.
Pretty defined for each character. The conversations tend to come in batches, quickly started and finished.
Long sentences. (I’m sorry, I know Hall has several other books, but my editor would never let me ramble on with these types of sentences.) As I mentioned, the mixture of character and plot battling for a fair share of the story is distracting. There’s a secret hinted at early on and explained near the end, but it barely meshes with rest of the story. It almost seems forced as if Hall threw it in there as just another piece of the puzzle. I’m not sure what to make of this book. It’s complex, jumps around to the different characters, and jigsaws its way to a quick if unexciting conclusion.