Hard Aground

Hard Aground

by James W. Hall
     
 

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From James W. Hall, best-selling author of Bones of Coral, comes a haunting new novel that sizzles with greed, lust, and murder, as it brilliantly evokes the secrets, betrayals, and family legacies that can either destroy or redeem. Set in the crime-ridden waters of southern Florida, Hard Aground tells the story of Hap Tyler. A tour guide and part-time sailboard… See more details below

Overview

From James W. Hall, best-selling author of Bones of Coral, comes a haunting new novel that sizzles with greed, lust, and murder, as it brilliantly evokes the secrets, betrayals, and family legacies that can either destroy or redeem. Set in the crime-ridden waters of southern Florida, Hard Aground tells the story of Hap Tyler. A tour guide and part-time sailboard builder, Hap is a man without direction, adrift in the teeming sea of life - until his brother Daniel's brutal murder shocks him out of his inertia. Hap's quest to find Daniel's killer leads him into a Miami rife with vice and violence - and into a sexually charged affair with crusading journalist Marguerite Rawlings. Haunted by her own family skeletons and a painfully unresolved relationship with her famous senator-mother, it is Marguerite who will toss Hap the lifeline he needs, and help him come to terms with his troubled existence. Intricately interwoven into this powerful story of self-discovery and long-buried secrets - and poised in poetic counterpoint - is a wild and raucous search for sunken treasure. Here, a host of colorful characters scramble to score off a deepsea fortune buried beneath the Miami surf. The novel packs a mean, stinging wallop when these two plot lines converge and collide in a stunning, unforgettable climax. Hard Aground is a fiendishly clever invention of mythic - and murderous - proportions, as Hall ruthlessly rips away the drop cloth of civilization to lay bare the foibles and follies, amorality and avarice, hilarity and heartbreaking nobility at the sniveling, snarling, savage heart of man.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Miami provides a potent setting for Hall's ( Bones of Coral ; Tropical Freeze ) expertly spun crime thriller, a dark, often funny novel with a powerful kick. The book's plot encompasses both a sunken 17th-century galleon filled with Mayan treasures and a local 19th-century homicide. On Biscayne Bay, somewhat unstable Vietnam vet Hap Tyler makes windsurfers and leads tourists through historic Mangrove House--built by his grandfather, the legendary Commodore Randolph Tyler--where he lives with his brother Daniel, an archeologist. Hours after promising to tell Hap a family secret, Daniel is found dead, apparently of a heart attack. Hap blames Daniel's lover, Marguerite Rawlings, a crusading preservationist who hopes to restore her grandmother's mill on the mid-city site where her forebear, a vehement conservationist, was murdered 100 years before. After learning that Daniel's death was also a murder, Hap and Marguerite join forces against Marguerite's mother, a corrupt U.S. senator who hungers for Mayan artifacts. Hall intertwines the Tylers' and Rawlings' pasts with evocations of rhythmic, dangerous modern Miami, whose residents include a Vietnam hero, his flashy black ex-con girlfriend and a volatile Cuban ex-cop who bulldozes his dreams of fortune in the deftly orchestrated climax. Although a few of the colorful lowlifes occasionally speak a highlife diction, Hall, in the company of Elmore Leonard, Edna Buchanan, John Lutz and Carl Hiassen, gives the Sunshine State the fictional crime stature of L.A. and New York City. BOMC and QPB featured selections; major ad/promo; author tour. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Daniel Tyler, a Dade County, Florida archaeologist, knows the location of the Carmelita , a 17th-century Spanish shipwreck that went down in Florida waters while carrying $400 million worth of Mayan gold, silver, and gems. He knows, but he's not telling, even through the torture that finally costs him his life. After Daniel's murder, his brother Hap and girlfriend Marguerite team up to find the treasure, competing with some highly motivated bad guys, including Daniel's murderers. Add to this a historical subplot about one of Miami's first murders and another about a large chunk of downtown Miami that reverts back to the descendants of the original 19th-century settler. The fast pace set by the author is given a creditable treatment by reader J. Michael Lee, despite a challenging diversity of characters. Exciting and fascinating as the story is, Hard Aground is also noteworthy for conveying a convincing sense of contemporary as well as historical Miami. Highly recommended for all fiction collections.-- Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, Ia.
Bill Ott
"There's always a lot of loose guilt floating around out there. Some people are just more susceptible to it than others." That's a world-weary Miami cop talking, someone who makes a living cleaning up the messes produced by all that guilt. And there are plenty of messes in Hall's latest thriller, which digs into the dirty pasts of some of South Florida's founding mothers and fathers. When hotshot archaeologist Daniel Tyler is murdered, his brother, Hap, is left to clean up the family mess, which stretches all the way back to the legendary Commodore, one of the original settlers in South Florida. Hap, the "ass end of a legend," is considered the Commodore's "worthless grandson," but he just may be sitting on a cache of old-fashioned buried treasure as well as the rights to some of Miami's most valuable real estate. Before it's all sorted out, Hall brings into the fray a typically bizarre collection of Florida lowlifes and a greedy politician who happens to be the mother of Daniel's girlfriend--herself another lost soul with a closetful of skeletons. From "Under Cover of Daylight" (1987) through "Bones of Coral" (1991), Hall has been looking beneath the sun-dried Armageddon that is Florida today to expose its gamy, rotting underpinnings. Not since Ross Macdonald has a crime novelist been so successful at revealing the stench of the present by examining the corpses of the past.
From the Publisher
"A masterful page-turner." —  Miami Herald.  

"Buried treasure, sexual kinks,  family secrets, real-estate swindles...a complex  intrigue." — The Boston  Globe.

"Highly original and  entertaining." — Elmore Leonard.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780840049148
Publisher:
B&N Distribution
Publication date:
12/01/1992

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What People are saying about this

Linda Barnes
A taut, vivid thriller.
James Elroy
Hall is the master.

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