Thursday, November 24, 2011

James W. Hall at Murder on the Beach

Dateline---Delray Beach.

On Tuesday, 11/22/11, James W. Hall had a book signing for his newly released “Dead Last” at Delray Beach’s Murder on the Beach bookstore.

I had a cake created by Publix and dropped it off when MOTB opened.

It was tip-off time for “Dead Last” so I got my copy and was off to the pool for some enjoyable reading.

After a wonderful dinner at the best seafood joint extant with my good friend from the class of 1961 at Graham Eckes, Roy Connors and his wife, Mona, it was off to the event.

“Dead Last” makes an even dozen novels featuring Thorn as the reclusive and reluctant hero. For lack of a better description, it is Florida noir at its best.

Dr. Hall (Ph.D) is a raconteur of the highest order, comfortable behind or in front of a lectern, rostrum or podium. He is exceptionally engaging and his self-effacing humor slays me.

Some tid-bits from his chat…

Terry Miller (executive producer of “Burn Notice”) is a former student and recognized in the book’s acknowledgements. The good doctor considers “Dead Last” his homage to the goodly number of great cable TV shows currently on the air.

His Elmore Leonard stories were hysterical, as were the tales of the popularity of his books in prisons.

The best question from the audience asked what writers in the genre he was into when he first started writing mysteries.

He chose Elmore Leonard for characters; James Lee Burke for the sense of place; Robert B. Parker for snappy dialog; John D. MacDonald for his love of Florida; and Ross Macdonald for that 20 year old incident that has been simmering and is finally solved/revealed (a Freudian story.)

In the audience was another Florida writer high on my list, James O. Born. His Alex Duarte and Bill Tasker series are big fun. “Walking Money” is not to be missed…a wonderful caper novel.

Crime novelist Wallace Stroby was on hand as well…Jim Hall had high praise for his “Cold Shot to the Heart.” I put it on my list.

Due to a comment or two, Dr. Hall inspired me to reread Elmore Leonard’s “La Brava.”

There were lots of laughs and a good time was had by all. Murder on the Beach does a great job and really treats the authors right.

I was back at the hotel in time to watch the second half of the Duke victory over Michigan and “Covert Affairs.”

If you have yet to discover Jim Hall, “Dead Last” is a good place to start. Thorn is a compelling and quirky protagonist.

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