by Steve Hamilton
It seems like every year, someone from my mystery reading group submits a wintery book for us to read in the dog days of summer. This year it was Steve Hamilton’s A Cold Day in Paradise, a solid detective story about murder in the U.P. The novel follows the travails of Alex McKnight, a retired cop working part time as a P.I. who finds himself the target of a serial killer’s affection. It’s well-written and quick paced. Just right for the balmy 90% humidity days of a Chicago August heat wave.
A few thoughts:
- McKnight has a bullet lodged just inches from his heart. Hamilton uses this as a metaphor for the fear he developed (a kind of emotional glass jaw) after having been shot while on the job in Detroit many years ago. It works pretty well, and the opening line provides a nice hook.
- There’s a really amusing scene with a former private eye that McKnight works with briefly in which we realize that McKnight really isn’t much of a P.I. Of course, we knew that before.
- Other than the snow on the front cover of the novel, I can’t say I FELT the cold the way that some other novels have been able to do. Mostly, McKnight’s constant running to and fro made me feel tired.
- The sheriff is a funny character, cranky and mean. I bet he shows up in other books as a permanent nemesis to McKnight.
- Minor Spoiler: One thing that makes a twist ending difficult to do in either a book or a televised movie is the amount of text/time left in the plot. When the story wraps up forty pages before the end of the novel, and there aren’t weighty subplots to disentangle in the aftermath, you know there’s gonna be a twist. Not that this book has a twist ending or anything.
As I said above, not bad. A good, gripping story that moves along quickly.