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Night Work: A Novel Hardcover – September 18, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Edgar-winner Hamilton's first stand-alone crime thriller falls short of his excellent Alex McKnight series (A Stolen Season, etc.). When Joe Trumbull, a juvenile probation officer in Kingston, N.Y., finally decides to socialize two years after his fiancée's murder, his blind date winds up strangled to death hours after their meeting. The local police chief calls in a pair of state detectives, who make Joe their prime suspect after two more woman are murdered who recently had contact with him. A loner beset by nightmares living in a messy apartment above the gym where he boxes to keep in shape, Joe begins to investigate to clear his name. Though the usually reliable Hamilton nicely evokes life in Kingston and the Hudson River landscape, this search for a psychopathic killer disappoints with repetitive dead ends and a clichéd wounded protagonist who brings on the terrifying climax by working with no backup. Author tour. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

Two years ago, probation officer Joe Trumbull's fiancée was murdered, just days before their wedding. Still aching from the loss, Joe decides it's time to move forward, so he accepts a blind date, which goes surprisingly well—until he learns the next day that his date, too, has been murdered. Suddenly the past two years of his life swim into sharp focus, as Joe realizes someone is shadowing him, striking when he least expects it, in a way designed to make him feel the maximum amount of pain. This is a fine stand-alone thriller from the author of the popular Alex McKnight series. It's smartly paced with well-drawn characters and a constant claustrophobic sense of evil, as though something is about to lunge out of the darkness at us. Trumbull is a solid protagonist, a man whose physical strength is matched by his strength of character, but he isn't one of those bland, muscular hero types. This isn't the first time Hamilton has tackled the stalker theme (he used it in A Cold Day in Paradise, 1999), but he handles it very well here, without repeating himself. Pitt, David

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (September 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312353618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312353612
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,733,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Hamilton is the New York Times bestselling author of both the Alex McKnight series and the standalone novel The Lock Artist, currently in film development. He's one of only two authors in history (along with Ross Thomas) to win the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and then to follow that up later in his career with an Edgar for Best Novel. Beyond that, he's either won or been nominated for every other major crime fiction award in America and the UK, and his books are now translated into twenty languages. He attended the University of Michigan, where he won the prestigious Hopwood Award for writing. He currently lives in upstate New York with his wife and their two children. Visit his Web site at

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In "Night Work," Steve Hamilton introduces Joe Trumbull, a probation officer who lives and works in upstate New York. Joe is "part cop, part social worker, part guidance counselor, part rehab coordinator, part bounty hunter." His job is multifaceted: he visits his clients' homes and drags them out of bed, investigates their family lives, and writes up sentencing recommendations for the court. If he suggests probation and the judge agrees, then Joe tries to help his "knuckleheads," mostly kids in need of supervision, to stay out of prison. Joe is "your official court-designated guardian angel." He lives in a dumpy apartment above a gym, adores jazz, and dabbles in boxing.

Two years earlier, Joe's fiancée, Laurel, was murdered just days before their wedding. The case is still open. Lonely and afraid of staying that way, Joe puts a listing in a singles' site and lands a blind date with a beautiful woman. In a humorous opening, Joe approaches his evening out as if he were facing an impending execution. Fortunately, he and his companion hit it off and, for the first time in a long while, Joe is looking forward to the future. Unfortunately, a series of unexpected and terrifying events follow that make Joe the prime suspect in a series of homicides. To clear his name, he will need to find the answer to a crucial question: Who hates him enough to want to destroy him?

Steve Hamilton made his reputation with the solid Alex McNight series, and although this thriller lacks the punch of Hamilton's earlier books, it does have its strengths. Hamilton wisely sets his story in an offbeat location, Kingston, New York, and he gives his protagonist an occupation (probation officer) that is also a bit different.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James Miller on April 6, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I approached this novel with a little different angle. I am a retired big city probation officer, and I know that while P.O.'s are quite central to the criminal justice system, they almost never make it into novels, movies, TV shows. The novels came first, and since there is no tradition of probation officer fiction, there are few, if any, movies, and no TV shows featuring P.O.'s.

Ross McDonough wrote a good mystery in the 1950's, Meet Me at the Morgue, with a probation officer at the center, but Bantam Books thought Howard Cross wasn't hard bitten enough for the paperback trade, so there were no more Howard Cross mysteries. And so it goes. Revenge goes down better in the mystery trade than redemption.

So... I was impressed with Night Work. Steve Hamilton got the essentials of the probation officer line of work down right, and he made the contradictory mission of P.O.'s into the driving force of a plot with multiple murders. P.O. Joe Trumbull has come into contact with many hundreds of troubled people in his seven years on the job. When your job is redemption, then there are hundreds of ways for you to fail. The "T" you didn't cross, the "I" you didn't dot: you may have had a good reason, but you never know if and when you will pay. I can remember my own self thinking, please let no one die on my watch.

I hope that we see more of this small town probation officer from the Hudson Valley.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 28, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Joe Trumbell works in upstate New York as a probation officer. When the book opens he is about to go on a blind date: his first since his fiancee Laurel was murdered two years ago. The date with Marlene goes very well - but shortly afterwards her dead body is found. Despite assertations to the contrary, it is clear that Trumbull is the police's best suspect. As the evidence against him mounts, he becomes determined to find the killer and to clear his name before it's too late.

The storyline is a familiar one, but Hamilton has an enjoyable writing style and injects enough twists and surprises to hold the reader's interest. I was trying to make sense of the clues along the way but didn't guess what the final outcome would be. After a slightly slow start, the book picks up momentum and makes for a fast read to the end. Yes the eventual conclusion is pretty silly, but no worse than most books in this genre. I enjoyed this book.

Steve Hamilton is the author of a great series about a retired cop living in Paradise, Michigan. (If you haven't read any of them, start with A Cold Day in Paradise). Night Work is a one-off standalone novel, although on his website he suggests that there will be future books about Joe Trumbull.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Longstreet on October 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a big fan of Steve Hamilton's previous books, Night Work came as a huge disappointment. Aside from the incredibly gloomy storyline, everything was too predictable. As Hamilton has proven himself to be a truly talented writer in the past, I continued reading this book with the assumption that the plot would take a surprising turn or, at least, I would see some of his enjoyable, lighthearted humor. Sadly, none of this happened. Not only was the story enormously dismal and dark, but everything was way too predictable. While I'm usually the last guy to figure out whodunit, Hamilton did everything but put a neon sign around the villain's neck very early in the book. Hopefully, Hamilton will drop the dull main character and sad tale of Night Work, and get back on track with his next novel.
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