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Die a Stranger: An Alex McKnight Novel    by Steve Hamilton order for
Die a Stranger
by Steve Hamilton
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2013 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Die a Stranger is the eightth (following Misery Bay) in Steve Hamilton's excellent Alex McKnight series. Alex was once a minor league baseball player, and later a Detroit cop, until a shooting left his partner dead and Alex with a bullet lodged in his chest. Afterwards, he moved to Paradise on the shores of Lake Superior. He lives in a cabin he built with his father and rents out other cabins.

This episode opens on two key events. First is the hijacking of a drug delivery from Canada to Michigan, after the small plane carrying the high-grade marijuana lands. Next is an Ojibwa funeral. Alex's close friend Vinnie LeBlanc is grieving over the death of his mother, a force of nature in reservation life. Her loss causes Vinnie to think dark thoughts about his father, who deserted the family long since and is in prison. Alex worries about his friend and tries to keep close tabs on him. When he hears about killings at another night-time drug delivery at the Newberry airport, Alex is concerned that Vinnie might somehow have been involved.

Vinnie has disappeared as has his cousin Buck. Alex is desperate to find him. And soon he has an unlikely ally in tracking his friend down, though facing resistance from both Tribal Police and Vinnie's extended family on the rez. Alex learns from an FBI source that the hijackers are taking the Mexican approach - 'One warning, then absolutely no mercy after that. Just flat-out appalling violence.' These drug dealers are also on Vinnie's trail, while he and Buck foolishly put their trust in a pair of 'old hippies', who turn out to be as vicious and ruthless as they come.

The violence soon escalates on Beaver Island, where Alex risks his life to save his friend's and is given a deadline, after which the mobsters promise 'a river of blood.' Alex finds himself uncharacteristically helpless, but his ally is not. As this episode ends, Alex is persona non grata on the rez, but concludes, 'Vinnie doesn't live on their reservation anymore. He lives on mine.' Die a Stranger is a gripping thriller that maintains high tension throughout - don't miss this outstanding series.

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