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October 22, 2011 / C.T. Henry

A GOLDEN OLDIE: Steve Hamilton’s Blood in the Sky

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that Steve Hamilton’s The Lost Artist won tons of awards, including the illustrious Edgar Award, in 2011.  Hamilton’s Alex McKnight series is one of my favorites, and while many people should begin with the first book in the series, A Cold Day in Paradise, I would also highly recommend Blood in the Sky (2003).

First Lines: “I saw a lot of fires when I was a cop in Detroit. I was supposed to help secure the scene and then get the hell out of the way, but sometimes I’d stick around and watch the firefighters doing their work. I saw some real battles, but when they were done, the building would always be standing. That was the thing that got to me. The windows would be blown out, and maybe there’d be a big hole in the roof, but the building would still be there. Years later, I watched a Lake Superior storm taking down a boathouse. When the storm let up, there was nothing left but a concrete slab covered with sand. It wasn’t surprising. Anyone who lives up here knows that water is stronger than fire. Water wins that one going away. But at least water cleans up after itself. It does the job all the way. When water destroys, it makes everything look new. It can even be beautiful. Fire doesn’t do that. When a fire is done, what’s left is only half destroyed. It is charred and brittle. It is obscene. There is nothing so ugly in all the world as what a fire leaves behind, covered in ashes and smoke and a smell you’ll think about every day for the rest of your life.”

In the 5th book in the series, Hamilton pairs Alex McKnight with his best friend Vinnie LeBlanc in search of Tom, Vinnie’s brother. Tom led a hunting expedition in the forests of Northern Ontario for four Detroit businessmen and then disappeared. Together Alex and Vinnie must find out what happened to him and why.

Hamilton’s taunt, fast-paced prose and flawless character study make this entry into the series a standout.  Alex’s dogged nature shines through, as he remains fiercely loyal to Vinnie and is willing to sacrifice everything for the truth.  Get ready for a thrilling outdoor expedition to Canada. If you ever loved being in the woods, this is the book for you.  Hamilton’s descriptions are so breathtaking, you won’t be disappointed.

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