Sunday, June 5, 2011

Murder takes authorities all over the U.P.

Steve Hamilton will be signing books on Friday at 7:00 p.m.
at Schuler Books and Music, 1982 West Grand River, Meridian Mall, Okemos.

“Misery Bay,” by two-time Edgar Award winning author Steve Hamilton, (Minotaur, $24.99) marks the long-awaited return of Alex McKnight, a reluctant private investigator in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

It’s been almost five years since the last McKnight book, “A Stolen Season”; Hamilton, a 1983 graduate of University of Michigan, hasn’t lost his touch. Scheduled for release on Tuesday, this is another great book by one of America’s best crime novelists.

The eighth entry in his popular series opens with an intriguing meeting between McKnight and his nemesis in earlier books, Roy Maven, the Chief of Police at Sault Ste. Marie MI.

Maven has tracked McKnight down at his friendly local bar/ restaurant and asks him for help – the last thing that the former Detroit cop would ever expect.

Dan Razniewski (or Raz), Maven’s old partner when he was with the Michigan State Police, is struggling to understand why his college student son committed suicide a few months earlier.

His son’s body was discovered hanging by a rope on a tree in an icy cold area overlooking Lake Superior at Misery Bay. With no note, there’s little to go on; Raz, now a retired U.S. Marshall, hires McKnight to look into the death.

McKnight goes to Marquette to investigate, with mixed results; soon another murder complicates matters significantly. Maven joins McKnight in an unusual and unexpected partnership as the body count rises.

Leon Prudell, McKnight’s former partner, offers valuable assistance, even though he’s now working at a movie theater. When the FBI is called in, the plot becomes more complex; territorial disputes abound as egos clash.

There are many scenes involving travel on the narrow roads, through the small towns of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The bleak wintry atmosphere is described so well, you can almost feel the icy wind.

This excellent police procedural features strong characters and provides an exceptional roller coaster ride of plot twists.

While it helps to follow the entire McKnight series, beginning with his Edgar Award winning “A Cold Day in Paradise”, it’s not essential. Hamilton, whose latest novel ”The Lock Artist” won an Edgar Award earlier this year, is hard at work on another McKnight book.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, June 5 2011.

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