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Let It Burn: An Alex McKnight Novel    by Steve Hamilton order for
Let It Burn
by Steve Hamilton
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Let It Burn is the latest in Steve Hamilton's outstanding Alex McKnight mystery series. Having only discovered it recently, I've been reading them out of order, and enjoying every one of them. And though it's not set in Alex's usual location of Paradise, on the shores of Lake Superior, this episode is one of the best.

The catalyst for the events that follow is a call Alex receives from his old sergeant, Tony Grimaldi, to warn him that a young black man he helped convict (Darryl King) is about to be released from prison. Alex, a Detroit patrol officer at the time, helped Detective Arnie Bateman close the case, just before he and his partner were shot while on duty (leaving Alex with a bullet lodged in his chest and his marriage in disarray).

Though he enjoys chatting with Grimaldi, Alex does not plan to follow up, until he decides to kill two birds with one stone, and keep a promise he made to FBI Agent Janet Long. Though they have dinner their relationship remains stalled by long distance. But returning to the city brings back memories of the past to Alex - and a feeling that something did not add up, 'Not then. Not now. Not ever.'

He visits Darryl King's mother Jamilah, who assumes he's come to apologize for putting her son away, even after he reminds her that Darryl confessed. Alex meets Detective Bateman and gets his take on what happened. And he consults his friend, ex-PI Leon Prudell, whose judgment he trusts. Alex concludes that 'Darryl King went to prison for a crime he didn't commit' and sets out to prove it.

After Bateman is murdered and Darryl goes missing, he's assumed to be the killer. But Alex finds links to a series of similar murders, many of which happened when Darryl was in jail - a serial killer plying his trade for all these years? He alerts the FBI. Complicating matters, the original victim's husband and brother seek Darryl too, with vengeance in mind.

Alex only gets his answers after he realizes that 'Being a good brother is the most important job in the world.' And he feels betrayed by Janet's role in what unfolds. Let It Burn is as good as it gets for an Alex McKnight mystery, and that's a high standard indeed!

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