Forests of the Night by James W. Hall is to be avoided. I picked it up at the library, hoping for a good story to fill in the long weekend. Hall is an experienced writer with many books to his credit, in the suspense and mystery genre. The quotes on the jacket were positive – but I should have been tipped by the fact that most of them related to his work in general, not to this book.
It has a weird plot. Charlotte is a police officer in Miami, married to Parker, wealthy and successful trial lawyer. They have a schizophrenic daughter. Charlotte has an uncanny way of reading people – she sees micro-facial expressions, which gets her hooked up with the FBI. Parker is connected to the Cherokee Nation, in the blood line of a Cherokee who resisted the move to Oklahoma and killed some soldiers. It turns out that the descendents of one of the soldier’s widow are hunting the descendents of the Cherokee warrior. The villain is a sort of cross between a Deliverance-style genetic freak, a mother-driven Psycho, and a Gone with the Wind Southern gentleman. He has raised standard poodles as killer attack dogs. He discovered that Parker had an illegimate son with a Cherokee woman and framed the son for a series of bank bombings. The FBI are hunting the son. Son comes to dad for help, kidnaps schizophrenic daughter and runs off to Deliverance country in North Carolina, the villain’s home territory. Charlotte and Parker fight about son’s innocence. Etc etc. Freakishly unreal characters, bizarre plot, total garbage.
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