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Hard Aground
     

Hard Aground

by James W. Hall
 

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450 years ago a treasure ship went down. In Miami, the heat hasn't let up yet...Hap Tyler tailboards on Biscayne bay, hears voices, seduces young women, and lives on the edge of history in his family's old-money mansion amid Miami's pastel glitz. But while Hap stumbles around in the shadow of his more successful older brother, Daniel, a tangled web of

Overview

450 years ago a treasure ship went down. In Miami, the heat hasn't let up yet...Hap Tyler tailboards on Biscayne bay, hears voices, seduces young women, and lives on the edge of history in his family's old-money mansion amid Miami's pastel glitz. But while Hap stumbles around in the shadow of his more successful older brother, Daniel, a tangled web of deception and greed is being spun around him —a web that leads Daniel to his death.

Trying to solve his brother's murder, Hap collides with a 450-year-old secret: the disappearance of $400 million in a sunken Spanish plunder. Daniel's upscale girlfriend is close to digging up the treasure, an avaricious senator has already tasted it, and a stone-cold killer will stop at nothing to bring it home. For Hap a dark and bloody vein of Florida and family history has been opened. And the only way to close it is through a modern ritual of violence and truth.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385307970
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/01/1992
Pages:
368

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What People are Saying About This

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

Meet the Author

James W. Hall (born 1947) is an American author and professor from Florida. He has written over a dozen novels, four books of poetry, a collection of short stories, and a collection of essays. His first novel Under Cover of Daylight was written in 1987. In 2012 he wrote a book called Hit Lit that analyzed the common features of the twelve most commercially successful books of the past hundred years. He taught creative writing in Florida for forty years.

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