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BLOOD IS THE SKY
by Steve Hamilton
Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Press, June 2003
304 pages
$24.95
ISBN: 0312301154


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's October in Paradise in the Upper peninsula of Michigan and Alex McKnight, ex pro catcher, ex Detroit cop, has finally decided to rebuild the log cabin that was burned. It was the last, the largest and best of the cabins his father built. But he's too stubborn to ask for help. The logs are delivered two days later, but he is sure he can get the cabin done before the snows come.

Alex's neighbor, Vinnie Leblanc, an Ojibwa indian, shows up one day and starts helping Alex. He accepts the help as apology and their former close relationship resumes. Vinnie shows up every days and helps Alex. Alex takes Vinnie to the Glasgow Inn every night, and Jackie Connery, the proprietor, makes them dinner.

One day, Vinnie doesn't show up. Alex isn't too worried until Vinnie doesn't appear for several days. He finds out that Vinnie's brother Tom, an ex-con had taken a group of hunters into Canada. Tom had been offered $3000 to do the job so Vinnie gave him his wallet and ID since Tom was on probation and couldn't leave Michigan, much less the country. Tom was days late returning, so Alex and Vinnie go to Canada to look for him.

BLOOD IS THE SKY sucks one in from the first paragraph and doesn't let go until the end. Hamilton's prose is crisp and one can feel the cold in northern Michigan (it never seems to be warm up there). Alex has good friends, including Vinnie, Jackie, and Leon, his sometime PI partner. He has chosen to live simply, taking care of the 6 cabins, renting them out to sportsmen or snowmobilers in season, but trouble always seems to find him.

A COLD DAY IN PARADISE, the first book in the series, was an award winner, and NORTH OF NOWHERE, the third is one of the nominees for the 2003 Anthony Awards. I'd be surprised if BLOOD IS THE SKY isn't nominated for an Edgar next year. Do start at the beginning and read the books in order. BLOOD IS THE SKY assumes that you know the characters and their relationships, but if it is treated as a stand alone, many of the nuances of the complicated relationships may be lost. Whatever you do, however, do read it.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, May 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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