Harper McDaniel a welcome new protagonist from a much-admired writer

When They Come for You, by James W. Hall. Thomas & Mercer 288 pages. Trade Paperback $15.95.

Add James W. Hall to the list of premier mystery/thriller authors who have jumped tracks from a classic series featuring a male protagonist to a new series featuring a female character. Having raved over Michael Connelly’s Renée Ballard and Randy Wayne White’s Hannah Smith, I am now gushing over Mr. Hall’s Harper McDaniel.  

We meet Harper on a pleasant February day in her Coconut Grove home. Her husband Ross, an investigative reporter, is shaving while holding their infant son Leo. Harper must snap a picture of them. That’s part of her nature as a professional photographer who is also the daughter of Deena Roberts, a photographer superstar and a suicide. A few blocks away, Spider Combs performs his electronic surveillance of the home, taking pictures and filming the movements of the gorgeous Harper. He knows a lot about this family, a family he has been contracted to destroy. Only Harper survives the fire.

When local police don’t seem to take the case seriously, Harper takes matters into her own hands.

James W. Hall

Whomever hired Combs and his associates wanted to stop Ross from finishing his expose about the chocolate industry. Harper, a martial arts expert, seeks justice and revenge. She needs to finish Ross’s work. With the help of her adopted financier brother, Nick; her retired mafioso grandfather, Sal; and – much later in the novel – family friend and movie star Ben Westfield, Harper prepares herself for the only task that will give her life meaning and purpose.

Mr. Hall’s skill in capturing Harper’s emotional turmoil, her ultimate resilience, and her courage adds great verisimilitude to a character who comes close to being a candidate for feminine (if not feminist) legend. The author’s superb rendering of Harper’s tradecraft fuels the legend with astonishing combat scenes. Yet we are always aware of Harper’s mortality, the preparation and capabilities of her foes, and her occasional doubts and fleeting fears. . . .

To read the full review, as it appears in the August 30, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the August 31 Naples, Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, and Palm Beach editions, click hereFlorida Weekly – When They Come for You

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