That Steve Hamilton has won a following by writing private-eye novels about a guy who has no interest in being a PI is testament both to his storytelling talents and readers' hunger for fresh approaches to this genre. North of Nowhere finds ex-Detroit cop Alex McKnight celebrating his 49th birthday by retreating to his cabin in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where he laments his personal and career failures. Eventually, though, McKnight is coaxed out with the prospect of a poker game, hosted by wealthy contractor Winston Vargas, only to have the game interrupted by armed men in masks, who empty Vargas's safe and leave clues suggesting that Alex and his fellow players engineered the heist.|
Now, McKnight really has reason to feel sorry for himself. But instead, he goes after the gunmen, along the way swapping sucker punches with Vargas, shaking down his former detective partner (who videotaped the thieves' escape), and discovering that even his friends harbor secrets that could get them all killed.
This fourth McKnight outing (after 2001's The Hunting Wind) is a fine showcase for Hamilton's lithesome prose. The pace is brisk, the episodes often humorous, and the tale brims with an infectious reverence for its natural setting ("God help me, on a summer night when the sun is going down, it is the most beautiful place on earth"). If Hammett moved the detective story from the drawing room into the mean streets, Hamilton has proved that the north woods have their own potential for homicidal intrigue.
Source: J. Kingston Pierce, Amazon.com.