After six years of hiatus, Hamilton returns ex-cop Alex McKnight to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, land that he loves, and sets him against a psychopathic killer who thinks he’s Alfred Hitchcock.
With the freezing wind blowing off Lake Superior—never mind that it’s officially spring—Michigan’s UP might not be the first place most would think of as paradise. Unless, like Alex McKnight, you actually live in Paradise, a small, frost-bitten town abutting the Canadian border, and would never willingly live anywhere else. So there’s Alex, unfazed by a typically bitter UP night, enjoying a functioning fireplace, his signature Molson ale and similar life-affirming comforts when the door to the Glasgow Inn opens to a man with whom he shares a mutual hatred. Well, perhaps a shade less than that. “Just call it a persistent lack of liking each other,” explains Roy Maven to Jackie Connery, owner of the Glasgow. All Alex’s previous encounters with hard-eyed, congenitally irascible Maven, chief of police in nearby Sault Ste. Marie, have been unpleasant to say the least, yet here he is asking for a favor, and a strange one at that. A friend has suffered a terrible loss. His college student son has inexplicably taken his own life, and the grieving father is desperate for answers. Will Alex forget past grudges, dust off his infrequently used but still valid P.I. license, visit Michigan Tech and ask the kids some pertinent questions? Of course he will—Alex McKnight–errant is programmed for that sort of thing. Predictably, the suicide turns out to be a murder, while the killer involved turns out to be a bizarre kind of filmmaker in whose eerie epic Alex comes within an eyelash of playing a death scene.
Too soft in the middle to be among the best in this estimable series; still, Hamilton (The Lock Artist, 2010, etc.) has a great time with the love-hate relationship between two alpha males.