Book Review: Body Language, by James W. Hall

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Welcome to Miami

Miami is the setting at the beginning of this novel from James W. Hall.  Body Language is a strange tale of a crime scene photographer, working nights, trying to find a serial killer.  Sort of.

On the other hand, it’s an odd tale of her not-very-nice husband hoping to pull off the perfect crime.

Both are putting Alexandra Rafferty in grave danger.  Both involve twists and turns, and that includes the position of the bodies.

The Cast of Characters

They may not be as troubled as they sound.

First you have Alexandra, the crime photographer, who was raped as a child, still suffering from one night, long ago.

Then there is Stan, her unlikable husband, who drives an armored car for a living.  At least until the night of the accident.

My favorite was Lawton, Alexandra’s dad, Stan’s bane, a former policeman–still keen on clues–though oft times a bit forgetful.

The next team includes Emma, the young woman who watched in the shadows as the accident occurred.  She has a pet that travels with her.  A cockroach who resides in her pocket, complete with a leash.

Plus Norman, a very large man Emma’s father used to do business with. He’s the man Emma goes to with what she saw.  She has a plan.

We can’t forget Jennifer, Stan’s mistress, who ends up in both parts of the story.

Jason, a sparring partner of Alex when she is practicing martial arts, keeps showing up too.

Lastly, there is serial killer. A seriously wicked murderer leaving women in strange poses, who may or may not be one of the above.

The Story

Alex, troubled woman that she is, works with the police department photographing crime scenes.  Currently she is working on the crimes of a serial killer who brutally rapes and kills women before staging them in strange positions.  At the same time, she cares for her father, suffering from dementia.

Alex’s husband, sick of the father and his wife too, has planned an accident with the armored car he drives.  An accident that will be an escape from his current life to another.  But he never saw the  witness hiding while the accident happened.  Now she and another man want the money.

As the events unfold, Alex and her father end up on the run. However, it seems that everyone knows where to look, including the serial killer.

My View

In the end I have to say I enjoyed the book.  At first I wasn’t sure I would.  Even part way through the book I wondered.  It seemed a little slow starting, with most of the characters not souls you want to spend time with.  Yet, it was hard to stop reading.

Lawton was the scene stealer.  Retired cop who thinks he is still a cop one minute, the next forgetting where he is.  The way they handled his dementia or Alzheimer’s was actually charming.  In his moments of clarity, he sees more than most would, whether through intuition or watchfulness.  His actions lightened up the story, without any disrespect to those with the disease, just funny and occasionally inappropriate.

You wander around through the book, reading various points of view.  Dropping in on Stan and his mistress, Emma and Norman, Alex and her father, and a killer.  When Alex arrives in Seaside, Florida, the tension mounts rapidly and kept me listening until I’d finished.

I did ‘read’ in audio form for this selection.  The narrator, Laurel Merlington, did a very good job reading.  The change from one scene to the next was a little fast, but still clear enough that it was easy to follow.

When picked this book by Mr. Hall, I was expecting it to be the first is his popular Thorne series.  It was not, so I will have to find that one next.

It’s another unique view of Florida from a writer who knows his state.  From what I’ve read in my Florida series, the descriptions of both the locale and the people are well done and perhaps too accurate.  Quirkiness seems commonly available  all along the sultry shoreline.

Give James W Hall a try.  See what you think.  I’ll be reading another.

Under Cover of Daylight

The first in the Thorn series is Under Cover of Daylight.  Set in Key West, Florida, Thorn is another character who is haunted by his past.  When the woman who raised him is murdered, he will have to face that past when he goes after her killers.



Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Mystery Suspense Reviews .

Author: Merry

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