Mysterious Book Report Let It BurnLet It Burn by Steve Hamilton

Minotaur Books, $25.99, 276 pages, ISBN 978-0-312-64022-4

One thing you may not have picked up from all the cops n’ robbers shows we all watch nightly on the telly—as we have since we’ve had television, and the radio dramas before them, is this: all arresting and prosecuting officers of the law take a keen interest in the whereabouts of the miscreants they’ve put away.  Let’s face it.  No one wants to get jumped by a criminal who’s spent the last howevermany years rotting in jail, or gladiator school as some smart-alecs call it, plotting their revenge against the persons who put them there.  And therefore a notification system exists, formal and informal as well, to notify certain police or lawyers when certain convicts are released from prison, which is how this week’s MBR No. 124 begins.  Let It Burn, by Steve Hamilton, features his serial character named Alex McKnight, and this is his eleventh appearance in one of Mr. Hamilton’s novels.  McKnight is a medically retired, disabled Detroit policeman with a bullet still lodged in his chest, next to his heart.  He lives 300 miles north of the city at the extreme end of the Upper Michigan peninsula in a tiny town called Paradise.  It’s just before Labor Day, when McKnight . . . who is closing down the tourist cabins he makes his living with in preparation for winter . . . gets a phone call.  It’s from his old desk sergeant, a retired cop named Grimaldi, who is advising McKnight of the imminent release of a murderer that McKnight identified, helped arrest and send to prison.  It was a case that was closed just a couple of weeks before McKnight was shot three times by an insane man with an Uzi submachine gun and his partner was killed by the same crazed individual.  After a long convalescence, during which his marriage fell apart, McKnight left Detroit for the northernmost part of Michigan.  But, like an itch he can’t reach to scratch, the old case keeps nagging him because another detective closed it out . . . and McKnight isn’t one hundred percent certain that the kid who went to the Michigan State Penitentiary actually did the deed . . . which means that the real killer is still out there somewhere, still murdering other victims.  The case takes new and bizarre turns in every chapter until the conclusion blasts the reader into the realization that Hey this guy is a damn good writer!  There’s a reason he’s won more writing awards than I can even count, including a pair of those treasured Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America!  Read him yourself and see!  You’ll not be disappointed.


John Dwaine McKenna