Eric Stone's third Ray Sharp novel is, so far, his best. Once again we are treated to what we've come to expect from Stone: a feast for the senses. Vivid scenes, in which you can almost smell the cigarettes, the perfume, the garlic. Transportation to exotic places. A banquet of sights, sounds, and even tastes; I was constantly hungry while reading it. Stone has mastered the art of local color, so much so that the plot of HORNBILL---the search for a missing person against the backdrop of a gold mine scam---is almost superfluous.
After a particularly gluttonous meal, protagonist Ray Sharp states, "As I slump in food induced lethargy in my plastic chair, I wonder why anyone would live anywhere else than Indonesia." After reading Stone's vivid descriptions of the place, I wonder why anyone wouldn't want to visit.
His masculine, matter-of-fact writing style will lead you to believe the story he's telling really happened, and happened the way he told it. This is no doubt a result of his many years spent in Asia, but it also speaks to skillful storytelling, a unique talent for making the make-believe seem real.