Published in 1997, Steve Hamilton’s A Cold Day in Paradise — the first book in the Alex McKnight series — has its share of boilerplate elements, but by deftly integrating its protagonist’s past and present in his search for a murderer, unreeling the mystery with an escalating sense of tension — which culminates satisfactorily rather than surprisingly; more golf-clap ‘well-played’ than voracious applause — it’s clear why McKnight has starred in ten subsequent novels, and why Hamilton has developed a reputation as one of the genre’s most reliable storytellers.
Fourteen years ago, Maximilian Rose put three bullets in ex-Detroit cop McKnight’s chest, and murdered his partner in cold blood. Forced into retirement, one bullet still lodged next to his heart, McKnight’s only just registered himself as a private investigator when corpses begin appearing in the small town of Paradise, Michigan, and he starts receiving late night phone calls, letters, and mementos — seemingly Rose. But how’s that possible, when authorities at Jackson State Prison report he hasn’t left the facility or had any visitors for years?
Even though its final revelations didn’t shock me, I appreciated the craft of Hamilton’s debut, and his economy and masterly command of pace. I’ll be tracking down the other McKnight books as soon as I possibly can.
Imprint: Minotaur Books
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publish Date: 22-May-2012
Kicking off a new series, Steve Hamilton’s The Second Life of Nick Mason sets expert thief Nick Mason free from federal prison – having served a mere five years of his 25-year sentence – and throws him head first into a life of even greater debauchery.
Mason’s life of crime began small, then exploded grandly; from petty larceny to larger heists. But after some close calls, Nick decides to end his illegal enterprises for the sake of his wife and child – until he’s convinced to do one last job, a big score that will set him up for life. Things don’t go to plan: his friend is killed, and so is a DEA agent. Nick ends up sentenced to 25 years inside a maximum security prison, and abandoned by his family. He has lost everything, and spends every waking minute wishing he could do it all over, pining over choices he wishes he’d made.
But thanks to the influence of Darius Cole, a criminal kingpin who operates his empire from a cell, Mason is freed from prison – much to the chagrin of the cop who put him away – but tied to his obligations to Cole. The criminal mastermind owns Mason now – and refusing his orders is not an option. Cole saw something in Mason he didn’t recognize in himself: that deep down, at his very core, he is capable of murder. And more than that: he is capable of getting away with it. Now, back on the streets of Chicago, Nick Mason is Darius Cole’s soldier, whether he likes it or not – and he most definitely does not.
The Second Life of Nick Mason is a first-rate thriller, imbued with the kind of page-turning relentlessness that’ll entice immediate consumption: start the book late into the evening at your peril. Hamilton has created an intriguing protagonist in Nick Mason, who exists in the shades of grey between good and bad, and the series will clearly deal with his attempt to find a balance that will allow him to sleep soundly at night.
Fast-paced, full of moral ambiguity, The Second Life of Nick Mason plants Steve Hamilton firmly in the league of the genre’s greats. It’s lean, mean and visceral – yes, unpoutdownable.
Format: Hardback (236mm x 162mm x 26mm)
Imprint: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publish Date: 17-May-2016
Country of Publication: United States