In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the temperature periodically checks in at 30 below, everybody knows it’s crazy to start rebuilding a log cabin in October. Even Alex McKnight, ex–Detroit cop, ex–minor-league catcher, ex-p.i., ex-husband, knows it’s crazy. But it was his old man’s cabin, and it got savaged by a sociopath, and Alex, as appreciative readers have learned by now (North of Nowhere, 2002, etc.), marches to a bring-your-own drummer. Sighing, his best friend Vinnie (Red Sky) LeBlanc brings his tool kit nevertheless. For a while the work goes remarkably well, but then word comes down from the Ojibway rez that Vinnie’s brother Tom, a professional guide, has been lost in the Canadian woods. It’s not like Tom to get lost anywhere. And it’s not sensible for Tom to get lost in Canada, since leaving the country is a parole violation, and free-spirited Tom has unresolved issues with the state prison system. So Vinnie has no choice but to go after his brother, and Alex no choice but to go after Vinnie. It’s a perilous journey, with violence and death as pervasive as the punishing cold. But for Alex at least, redemption is there, too. At journey’s outset, someone says to him, “You have such a lonely heart, it’s hard to even look at you.” By journey’s end, the McKnight heart is just a bit less lonely.
Hamilton won an Edgar and an Anthony in 1998 for A Cold Day in Paradise. This smart, brisk, twisty tale is even better.