St. Martin's, May 2002, 23.95, 288 pp.
Turning forty-nine this summer in Paradise, Michigan, Alex McKnight spends a lot time reflecting on his life so far but finds it wanting. He turns reclusive until his pal, Glasgow Inn owner Jackie Connery, bullies Alex to join a poker game hosted by wealthy developer Win Vargas. During the game, Win claims that one of the regulars, not playing that night, is having an affair with his wife.
Not long afterward, three hoods break and enter the Vargas home. They make Win go upstairs with one of them while the other two point guns at the heads of the remaining five card players. Instead of robbing Win of his wife's jewels and the men of their wallets, they destroy his marine and Indian artifact collection before leaving. A stunned Win ponders how they knew the location of his secret safe. Unable to say no, Alex heeds the call of the wife of his former private investigative partner Leon Prudell to keep her husband safe while he investigates the robbery for Win.
The latest McKnight mystery is a robust entry because the audience sees another side of the hero, struggling with his age and his lack of success in life. The story line starts off focusing on Alex' internal skirmish, but quickly picks up speed when he gets involved with Win via the card game and through Leon. Alex is at his best and the support cast augments the isolated feeling of going NORTH OF NOWHERE that shows why Steve Hamilton is an award-winning author.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner