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by Steve Hamilton
Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Press, June 2003
304 pages
ISBN: 0312301154

BLOOD IN THE SKY is the fifth mystery featuring Alex McKnight. Alex is attempting to rebuild the cabin that was destroyed in NORTH OF NOWHERE. He disregards the fact that it is October and depending on the year, the snow might begin any time. Eventually his neighbor and sometimes friend, Vincent LeBlanc, offers his assistance. Building progresses quickly until Vincent asks for help. His brother Tom is out on parole and led a hunt into Canada using Vincentís identity; unfortunately, Tom has not yet returned. To complicate the situation even more, Red Albright, the person who originally hired Tom has not returned phone calls nor can Vincent get in contact with anyone who knows his whereabouts. Vincent convinces Alex to accompany him to Lake Peetwaniquet to find his missing brother. Alex quickly realizes that this investigation is similar to his previous experiences in the sense something terrible is going to happen. Alex must find Tom, or his body, before he and Vincent disappear as well.

BLOOD IN THE SKY questions the idea of family loyalties and friendships. Alex has to begin to rebuild the cabin ASAP because it is the last cabin his father made before he died. If Alex allowed the cabin to remain charred rubble, he would dishonor his fatherís memory. Vincent allowed his brother to assume his identity in order to leave the country because he thought it would help his brother, even though it was a stupid thing to allow. In fact, everyoneís actions, regardless of how dark or frightening, stem from this concept of honor and familial commitments.

Steve Hamilton continues to demonstrate his strength as a writer in BLOOD IN THE SKY. The mystery itself is tight, the characters are interesting and there is enough grittiness to keep any noir fan satisfied. Steve Hamiltonís books have begun to receive critical acclaim with the release of each new addition. BLOOD IN THE SKY demonstrates that this acclaim is justified. One can only hope that as this series continues, Hamilton gains all of the recognition he deserves.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, August 2003

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