Alex McKnight, the burned-out former cop turned PI of Steve Hamilton's Edgar Award-winning first novel, A Cold Day in Paradise
, was a promising catcher who never quite made it to the majors. But his old teammate Randy Wilkins did, for one game with the Detroit Tigers that effectively ended the pitcher's career. What Randy can't forget about that game was the beautiful young woman he met the night before he blew his future in professional sports. Over two decades later, he's come to McKnight to track down the mysterious Maria, whose memory still haunts him. The trail is pretty cold after all these years, but Alex manages to get a line on Maria's relatives, who aren't exactly thrilled to make his acquaintance. In fact, they're downright hostile when Alex finds them in a small Michigan town, and he just barely escapes with his life. But he perseveres, and ultimately makes his way to an even smaller resort town, where the natives are almost as unfriendly. The police chief is so hostile to Alex's efforts that he quickly realizes someone else is on her tail, and that there's a good reason she's been hiding out for so long. Not only that, when someone shoots Randy and almost kills him, Alex is in for another nasty surprise. His old friend isn't who he seems to be, and Alex himself may be the victim of exactly the kind of scam Randy's been running since he left the majors.
Hamilton has a well-developed sense of place, and he's good at exploring the complexities of his protagonist. But it's Randy the reader wants more fully realized, even after the mystery is solved and Alex makes a beeline back to Paradise. This is a taut, well-written thriller that fulfills Hamilton's promise as a writer to watch. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
Edgar and Shamus Awards-winner Hamilton's third Alex McKnight thriller (after A Cold Day in Paradise; Winter of the Wolf Moon) is the next best thing to Evelyn Wood. It is un-put-downable. McKnight, a former Detroit cop, was "retired" by a bullet that remains lodged in his chest. He owns a small business in upstate Michigan and likes to spend his time in the local pub watching his beloved Tigers on TV. One day, an old friend walks in a man he hasn't seen for 30 years. Alex has a soft spot for old buddies who exploit him mercilessly. This one is no exception. He wants Alex to help him find an former girlfriend whom he hasn't seen in decades. As he won't listen to reason, he and Alex are soon in Detroit on the almost nonexistent trail of his boyhood love. It is a leisurely but interesting trek that doesn't quicken until it seems to peter out entirely. Then, an unexpected act of violence causes everything we have believed real to blur into a haze of doubt. We are in the glorious, shadowy realm of noir where nothing is what it seems. Alex, the street-smart cop, is momentarily a babe in the woods in a pit of vipers. Hamilton's prose moves us smoothly along and his characters are marvelously real. His world is an existential one merciless to the innocent but in this exceptionally entertaining novel, McKnight is a decent man whose wits are a match for a whole world of vipers.
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