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   A Cold Day in Paradise

A Cold Day in Paradise
by Steve Hamilton

Category: Fiction / Mystery
277 pages; ISBN: 0-312-19248-7

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: William Fare


Steve Hamilton won the Private Eye Writers of America`s Best First Novel Contest for "A Cold Day in Paradise (1998)", and it`s easy to see why. His blend of traditional plot lines and the amazing cold imagery of the novel`s setting is a real treat.

We`re introduced to Alex McKnight, an ex-cop from Detroit who has moved north to the small towns and thick pines of the Great Lakes. He left the force after being shot by a psychopath named Rose. In the grand tradition of Lawrence Block`s Matthew Scudder novels, McKnight is the sort of ex-cop who keeps (hopefully) being pulled into the nightmares that haunted him in the past. An anti-hero.

In the small town of Paradise, everyone knows everyone, and the sheriff is no fan of McKnight`s. After smalltime criminals start dropping dead, McKnight always seems to be around. And the calling cards that are being left could only be left by one man...Rose, the same man who shot Alex in Detroit. Unfortunately, Rose is spending the remainder of his life in the state maximum security prison.

Steve Hamilton has really written a bit of a throwback in "A Cold Day in Paradise". Rather than solve the murder in "real time", the novel hits its ultimate conflict and resolution about 2/3 of the way through, and then spends the remaining pages recreating the crimes with the variables filled in. I never felt like I was being coerced into buying the premise of the solution like I can in other private eye stories.

All in all, a very well thought out story that is almost overshadowed by the fantastic small-town characters and settings it takes place in. I would recommend this book to anyone who has wanted to read in this genre but didn`t know where to begin. It shows how it`s supposed to work when it`s done right.


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