Though all Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is basking in rare balmy sunlight, it’s the summer of Alex McKnight’s discontent. Now that he’s about to turn 50 without much to show for his half-century, the ex–minor-league catcher, ex-cop, ex–private cop, ex-husband, and current owner of six unprepossessing hunting and fishing cabins has turned hermit. And that worries his best friend Jackie Connery, proprietor of the Glasgow Inn, where Alex has not been dropping in for his customary tipple. Invading Alex’s lair, Jackie all but kidnaps him for a friendly poker game at fat cat Win Vargas’s swanky home. It turns out, however, that there’s a lot more in the cards for all concerned than straights, flushes, and male bonding. Three gun-toting hard guys crash the party and break open the bedroom safe, departing with $700,000 of Vargas’s money. A bad night is followed by a nightmarish day when Jackie and two other players, all Alex’s close friends, are arrested by lunkheaded Chief of Police Roy Maven. The robbery was a conspiracy, the chief asserts; Alex’s pals were in on it; and stuff stolen from Vargas has turned up in possession of all three. Certain his friends have been framed, Alex goes into overdrive trying to keep them out of jail. But then slowly, unsettlingly, he realizes that there’s a definite hangdog look about them he doesn’t associate with innocent men.
Hamilton (The Hunting Wind, 2001, etc.) spins a brisk, well-plotted tale brightened by his usual deft way with local color.