Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Magic City" by James W. Hall

The latest Thorn novel, “Magic City” by James W. Hall, is well worth the two-year wait.

It is set is present day Miami and 1964 around the Clay-Liston heavyweight fight.

During the fight, an aspiring photographer snaps a random photo. Caught on film are individuals who ought not to have been seen in public together---the mayor, CIA, mobsters, anti-Castro Cuban ex-pats, hired killers---Miami’s rich, powerful and infamous.

Shortly after Clay’s upset victory, a family of Cuban exiles and their zealous anti-Castro freedom fighters are massacred. The homicides were never solved, but rumors were rampant…conspiracy theory perhaps.

The two boys who survived the mass executions (Snake and Carlos) were adopted by the mayor (Stanton King), are now working for the former mayor.

When King attends a gallery show and sees the picture, he wants all copies located and eliminated. Those who could be embarrassed by the photo will kill repeatedly to suppress it.

Thorn’s girlfriend’s father (Lawton Collins, a former Miami cop) owns a copy and is in danger.

Thorn is a low profile, off the books, reluctant hero. Trouble has a way of finding him…and he will not avoid taking action when he and those he cares for are endangered. That trait seems to be in his DNA.

After Snake and Carlos attempt to steal Lawton’s copy, Thorn’s instinctive fierceness kicks in.

Bloodshed occurs as Thorn pulls out all the stops to uncover the raison d’etre for the photo cover-up.

From page one to the finale; the pacing reflects the best of the tropics. It is sultry, intoxicating and addictive. One does not appreciate how vigorous, powerful and potent the journey is until arriving at the destination.

“Magic City” takes the reader on a sophisticated tour of the Miami beneath the picture postcards and bright lights in this fascinating and deliciously complex tale.

While the opaque connections between disparate groups at first blush may appear implausible, they are based on recently declassified documents. Mind boggling!

A must read!