The man who shot and killed Alex McKnight's partner and left McKnight with a bullet a centimeter from his heart is behind bars, but McKnight lives with the trauma every single day. Fifteen years ago, McKnight traded his badge and gun in Detroit for a bit of private investigating work and a cabin in the woods in Paradise, Michigan, a small town not far from Sault Ste. Marie.
McKnight is stunned when a killer surfaces in the area, a killer with all the trademarks of the man behind bars for killing his partner and others. Is the man really in prison? Or is there an imposter in the jail cell? No one else could possibly know the intimate details of those old murders. McKnight's going to have a tough time unraveling truth from fiction there in Paradise.
Having met Steve Hamilton at an author event at my local independent bookstore, I knew I would have to read one of his books. There's a lot to like about A Cold Day in Paradise, and I can see why it won the awards it did. The setting is excellent and really gives readers a feel for life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The writing is marvelous, too, and really pulled me into the story as well as leaving me with several quotes that are stuck in my mind. (How about the one describing the man who left a bullet next to McKnight's heart? "I looked into his eyes. It was like looking down a mine shaft and seeing all the way down to hell.") The scene describing McKnight and his partner getting shot is particularly gripping.
I also liked the mystery. It's complex and certainly not easy to solve, although if you tend to be a reader who insists that all loose ends are tied up, the resolution may not be quite your cup of tea.
As I said, there's a lot to like about A Cold Day in Paradise. My problem is... I never really warmed up to Alex McKnight. To me, he's a bit of a wuss, and my opinion began to be formed when he and his partner were still alive. Of course, I have to be honest and admit that I have no earthly clue how I would react under the exact same trauma, but in all fairness, my feelings do not center completely on McKnight and his bullet. I won't go into detail because I want to avoid spoilers.
Since I'm not entirely sure that I want to read another McKnight mystery, I think the next Steve Hamilton novel I will read will be The Lock Artist. I look forward to it. The man knows how to write.
A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton
Minotaur Books © 1998
Paperback, 288 pages
Private Investigator, #1 Alex McKnight
Source: Paperback Swap