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Blood is the Sky    by Steve Hamilton order for
Blood is the Sky
by Steve Hamilton
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

Alex McKnight keeps trying to gain some perspective on his life, but his life keeps getting in his way. Rebuilding the cabin that was burnt down in North of Nowhere is good therapy for his soul and Alex begins to rebuild broken relationships during the process. Soon, though, trouble comes a callin' when his friend Vinnie, who is helping him with the cabin, learns that his brother is missing from a hunting trip in Canada. Alex travels with Vinnie to his brother's last known location and discovers that the entire hunting party has disappeared. Disturbing questions arise with no easy answers, and Alex once again finds himself deeply enmeshed in the problems of a friend. Nothing like other people's problems to take your mind off your own.

This is the fifth in the Alex McKnight series from Steve Hamilton, featuring a former police officer and onetime private eye. Somewhat in career limbo, Alex still finds himself calling on his past job skills to help Vinnie locate his brother. An average guy, Alex sports neither superhero physical prowess nor acute mental acuity, but is instead a man more often than not led by his emotions rather than by reason. This makes a refreshing change from the surfeit of unbelievable stunts we are too often offered these days in the modern mystery. Also, readers who may be wondering when Alex is ever going to get past his problems and move on, will hearten at the news that there is a possible romantic interest introduced, one that promises to be developed in later books.

The story begins slowly, but soon picks up speed and tension, drawing in readers inexorably. The prose itself is at times a little hokey, with somewhat artificial and/or predictable thoughts and dialogue. However, exciting action and an involving storyline take over and readers are soon engrossed in the evolving puzzle surrounding Vinnie's luckless, sad case brother. Mysteries set in scenic beauty are always a plus, and this series gives us a treat by offering the Great Lakes of the Michigan area as a backdrop to Alex's adventures. The wilds of Canada are also featured in Alex's and Vinnie's repeated trips back and forth across the border:

My first foray into Alex's world was for the most part a pleasurable one. While I was initially put off by the prose, I soon became engrossed in the plot and kept finding excuses to pick up the book and read some more. Fans of Alex McKnight will be pleased, and newcomers may well find an additional mystery series to enjoy, always a plus.
Note: This novel will be released in June 2003.

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