Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton

It’s been a long time since Hamilton published an Alex McKnight mystery, but this book was worth the wait.

Alex is still drinking Canadian beer at the Glasgow Inn under the grumpy eye of barkeep Jackie, still working on rebuilding his cabins with Vinnie, still wondering why on earth he lives in a place where winter never seems to end.  Everything in his life is reassuringly normal—and then he receives a plea for help from his arch nemesis, police Chief Roy Maven.  As strange as it seems to Alex, it turns out that Maven does have at least one friend, U.S. Marshall Charles Razniewski.  Razniewski is a friend in pain who needs help investigating the death of his only child.  A reluctant  McKnight agrees to help even though he thinks there is little he can do— how can he say no to what will surely be a once in a lifetime request for a favor from Chief Maven?

But from the moment Alex sets foot on the shore of Misery Bay, where Razniewski’s son died, he knows in his gut there’s more to this case than meets the eye.  As he investigates it becomes clear that there is a killer on the loose targeting specific people.  How many more does the killer plan to murder, why are they targets, and can the killings be stopped?  McKnight and Maven become the investigative equivalent of strange bedfellows as they unite to track down the answers—even if it means they have to learn to get along.

Hamilton’s writing is taut, with frequent flashes of mordant humor.  The pacing is electric, building to a heart stopping climax.  I defy anyone to stop reading this book once they’ve hit page fifty.  Another bonus:  it’s not necessary to have read the previous McKnight novels to enjoy this one.  So here’s my advice– don’t delay.  Add this book to your to-read list now.

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