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 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 was killed by a crocodile while doing a census on the reptiles in the Upper Keys. Leslie knew how to tag and release crocodiles without so much as a scrape. Thorn’s doubts rise when he has an odd visit by Cameron Prince, Leslie’s fellow biologist who was filming her work. Thorn tracks Cameron to a remote island, where he finds several surprises, including his son.
Flynn has given up his acting career to join Earth Liberation Front (ELF), ecological terrorists. Thorn agrees with ELF’s mission to save the environment but doesn’t agree with the group’s plan to shut down a power plant, nor does he trust it 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.”