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by Steve Hamilton
Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Press, August 2001
306 pages
ISBN: 0312268947

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Sometimes, our memories are best left in the past. When they come back to touch us in the present day, they can often disrupt our lives in unexpected and not necessarily positive ways. At least that's what Alex McKnight discovers when a former teammate shows up at his door after 30 years. Randy Wilkins was a pitcher and Alex the catcher on a minor league baseball team. Randy had a shot at the majors, which he blew, and hasn't been heard from since. So what's he doing at Alex's door after all this time? He's found out that Alex is a private investigator, although Alex would argue that point. And he wants Alex to find a woman by the name of Maria that he loved all those years ago. Alex is skeptical, to say the least; but swayed by Randy's charm, he goes ahead with the investigation.

Alex has been living in Paradise, Michigan, tending some cabins that his father built long ago. Formerly with the Detroit Police Department, he was shot and still has a bullet lodged next to his heart. If it were up to him, he'd stay in Paradise drinking Canadian beer at the local inn. But he's a soft touch when it comes to people who need him. Alex has a partner, Leon Prudell, who does a lot of the background work and comes up with some information on Maria and her family. Actually, Leon can't do any other kind of legwork because he's fallen off his roof and has 2 broken ankles. Anyway, Alex and Randy find Maria's brother in Detroit and are treated to some hard knocks and a stint in handcuffs. The family seems to be protecting Maria from someone who has been pursuing her for years. Randy ostensibly gives up the chase and goes back to California. What he really does is end up on the wrong end of a shotgun.

Alex finally connects with Maria and the new people in her life. Hamilton does an amazing job with the various characters in the book. No one is what they seem. No one can be trusted. Every single one of them is a liar, and every single lie brings events further out of control. Everyone is scamming everyone else-it's a wonder that anyone can figure out the truth of what's going on at all.

Hamilton does an exceptional job in weaving a complicated plot that twists and turns like a writhing snake. Just when you've figured out what's going on, he adds another surprise, and you're off in a totally different direction. He ups the tension to almost unbearable levels and then ups it some more.

This third book in the series is terrific. I liked the fact that Alex's former experience as a catcher was integral to the book. Although the book is not by any means comical, there is an undercurrent of humor. In addition to the fully realized characters and complex plot, Hamilton does a superb job of developing the setting. The reader is left to ponder the meaning of friendship and love and the very nature of truth. Smooth, unpredictable and satisfying-a one-sitting book.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, January 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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