Monday, July 02, 2012

Pierce’s Picks: “Die a Stranger”

A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.

Die a Stranger, by Steve Hamilton (Thomas Dunne/Minotaur):
Late one clear night in June, a single-engine Cessna--loaded down with high-grade marijuana from Canada--lands clandestinely on an airstrip in eastern Michigan. It has all the marks of a successful smuggling mission ... except that five corpses are discovered on that remote field the next morning. In the aftermath, blackjack dealer and Ojibwa tribal member Vinnie LeBlanc goes missing, together with his sketchier cousin, Buck Carrick. Nothing of an obvious nature links these incidents; Vinnie, after all, lives in Paradise, 300 miles north of the airstrip on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Yet when the always-reliable Vinnie starts missing his casino shifts, his best friend, former Detroit cop Alex McKnight, starts to worry. He knows that drug smuggling is fast becoming a big business in border zones such as the Upper Peninsula, and he fears Vinnie might have tried to rescue Buck from the consequences of an illegal action, only to get mixed up in trouble himself. When Vinnie’s long-estranged father, ex-con Lou LeBlanc, shows up in Paradise, looking for Vinnie as well, McKnight’s concerns go into overdrive. Assisted by the elder LeBlanc, McKnight is soon sniffing up the trail of two supposedly hippie drug dealers, people to whom Vinnie and his cousin might have gone for help--only to be framed for crimes they didn’t commit. This is Edgar Award winner Hamilton’s ninth Alex McKnight novel, following his return to the series in last year’s Misery Bay. Die a Stranger fills some important holes in Vinnie’s back-story, at the same time as it builds on McKnight’s character and offers abundant action for readers who require that in their crime fiction.

READ MORE:Q&A with Steve Hamilton,” by Jochem Vandersteen (Sons of Spade).

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