By James W. Hall
Fatherhood has not come easily to Thorn, the taciturn hero making his 13th appearance in James W. Hall’s series.
Still, it’s easy to cut the Key Largo loner a break. Thorn only recently discovered he even had a grown son and while he can never make up for lost time, he wants to at least hope for a future. But Hall isn’t after a touchy-feely father-and-son reunion between Thorn and Miami actor Flynn Moss, especially considering how their first meeting in 2011’s “Dead Last” left a family in physical and emotional tatters. Instead, Hall continues his high standards for gripping, action-packed plots that revolve around Florida’s intricate ecology and beauty in “Going Dark.”
Thorn doesn’t believe that biologist Leslie Levine, whom he has known since she was a teenager, was killed by a crocodile while doing a census on the reptiles in the Upper Keys. Leslie was an expert among the crocodiles and knew how to tag and release them without so much of a scrape. Thorn’s doubts rise when he has an odd visit by Cameron Prince, Leslie’s fellow biologist and the man who was filming her work. Thorn tracks Cameron to a remote island, but instead of a showdown he finds several surprises, including his son.
Flynn has given up his acting career to join Earth Liberation Front (ELF), ecological terrorists. Thorn, who lives as simply as he can, agrees with ELF’s mission to save the environment but doesn’t agree with their plan to shut down a power plant, nor does he trust them to be nonviolent. Although he has been trying to control his “impulsive hair-trigger,” Thorn reluctantly joins the group to try to help his son and prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Meanwhile, agents from the FBI and Homeland Security are tracking ELF’s actions.
Hall, who lives in Miami,revels in showcasing Florida. For Thorn, the “last few pockets of magic native land” are “the landscape that kept his heart in tune, that hummed in his marrow.” Hall again delivers a solid story with “Going Dark.” (MCT)