Book: Blackwater Sound

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Blackwater Sound: A Thorn Mystery

Author: James W. Hall
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks

The Braswell family had everything people would kill for: money, looks, power. But their eldest son, the family’s shining light, died in a bizarre fishing accident. And when he disappeared—hauled into the depths by the giant marlin he had been fighting—he took with him a secret so corrupt that it could destroy the Braswells.

Ten years later, a huge airliner crashes in the steamy shallows off the Florida coast. Helping pull survivors from the water, Thorn finds himself drawn into a bizarre conspiracy: someone has developed a high-tech weapon capable of destroying electrical systems in a powerful flash. The terrorist potential is huge. How are the secretive Braswells and their family-owned company, MicroDyne, involved? And what does it have to do with the family’s obsessive hunt for the great marlin that killed their golden boy?


A powerful Florida family, its high-tech fortune dwindling, is haunted by an elusive, enormous blue marlin that claimed the life of its eldest son, who was meant to restore the family’s prominence. But the Braswells are tormented by even darker secrets, such as incest and treason, that drive this dark, atmospheric thriller to an explosive conclusion, which might have been pulled straight from recent headlines. James Hall pits Thorn, his series protagonist, against the Braswells and their deadly plans. Although an existentially morose antihero is a convention of the mystery genre, Hall manages to transcend it with a fascinating plot and a powerful narrative, resulting in a suspenseful and resonant novel that shows off his well-developed talents for character development, place, and pacing. The author of 11 previous mysteries (including Mean High Tide and Rough Draft), Hall gets better with every book, and this one continues the trend. —Jane Adams

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Once, A. J. and Darlene Braswell had it all—fortune, three beautiful children, power, bright futures. But then their golden son, Andy, was killed in a grotesque battle with a giant blue marlin, and in the ten years since his death, the Braswell family has crumbled—Darlene ultimately giving in to suicidal depression, the family business nearly in ruins.

But Morgan and Johnny Braswell are not about to let their father’s obsession with the great fish that devastated their family ruin their lives any longer. They’ve got a plan. And after years of stealing ideas from the notebooks that Andy left behind, they’ve got a secret weapon that could restore MicroDyne’s greatness—or destroy it.

Of less consequence are the people they’ll have to kill to bring their plan to fruition, and murdering a nosy reporter is just a petty nuisance to be handled along the way. But when they kidnap Lawton Collins, a befuddled ex-cop who they believe has stolen the weapon from them, they attract the attention of a stranger whose name may be a mystery, but whose intentions are crystal clear.

Yes, Thorn is back, driven by his own personal demons into a bizarre conspiracy of greed and immorality that will take him far from the calm waters of Blackwater Sound. And in the churning blue seas off Abaco Cay, a haunted man will come face to face with the evil his own obsession has spawned; a pair of killers will unleash their wrath, leaving a deadly trail of de- struction in their wake; and Thorn will finally find salvation as he joins forces with Alexandra Rafferty, the unforgettable heroine of Body Language, in his greatest hour of fear and need….

“Thorn had learned…there was no defense against people like the Braswells, only offense. Your own set of…claws and a vengeful thirst

for blood.”

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