Steve Hamilton hits mark with ‘Misery Bay’

It’s been five years since the last Alex McKnight novel, “A Stolen Season,” was published. The sixth in the series ended with McKnight’s love interest being murdered in one of his cabins in Paradise, Mich., and he blamed himself for her death. At that point in the series, author Steve Hamilton said he needed a break from the character.

Hamilton wasn’t sure what he wanted to write about next, only that it wouldn’t be an Alex McKnight novel. Of course, that left his readers hanging. The author did write two stand-alone novels, “Night Work” and “The Lock Artist.” Still, those weren’t the same as an Alex McKnight book. We, the readers, needed to know what was going on in McKnight’s life and how he was coping with the death of police officer Natalie Reynaud.

Well, the seventh novel, “Misery Bay,” is finally out, and it’s a definite winner.

This time around, McKnight is called in by Natalie Reynaud’s former boss, Chief of Police Roy Maven. Maven doesn’t like McKnight, but he respects the man’s tenaciousness in working a case. He knows that once McKnight sinks his teeth into an investigation, he won’t stop until it’s solved. Maven also understands that McKnight won’t hesitate to bend the rules when necessary, which is something Maven can’t do.
When Maven was coming up through the ranks of law enforcement, he worked as a state trooper for a couple of years. One of his partners during that period was a man named Charles Razniewski (or Raz for short), who later went on to become a U.S. marshal. Raz’s only son, Charles Jr., apparently committed suicide a few months before and Raz needs to know why. Against his better judgment, McKnight agrees to look into the suicide.

It isn’t long, however, before McKnight senses something horrific going on behind the scenes, something that leads him to believe that Charles Jr. didn’t commit suicide but was rather murdered as an act of revenge. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only suicide that has taken place with regards to the children of former state troopers. McKnight soon finds himself in search of a serial killer as the FBI becomes involved and attempts to kick him off the case.

Of course, McKnight doesn’t give up on cases. This only forces the ex-Detroit cop to go it alone in search of a killer who may have more targets. This case will teach McKnight that evil comes in all shapes and sizes and can attack when least expected.

I can’t begin to describe the pleasure of having a new Alex McKnight novel in my hands. It was worth the wait. If anything, Hamilton has become a better writer. He’s able to capture the essence of northern Michigan with its coldness and isolation without overwriting.
One thing I certainly enjoy about the Alex McKnight character is that he ages with each book. He’s no longer a young man and isn’t able to do the things he did 30 years ago. That doesn’t stop him from trying. Also, McKnight’s word is his bond, and he always attempts to do the right thing.

I also liked what Hamilton did with the villain in this novel. You can understand the person’s need for revenge after what was done to him as a boy. You may not agree with it, but you can see where the person is coming from. One good thing that happens to the main character is that McKnight develops an attraction for a female FBI agent, who’s investigating the suicides. He’s starting to live again after the loss of Natalie Reynaud, which is important if the series is to continue.

All in all, Hamilton delivers with his latest, giving readers the adrenaline rush they need after a five-year wait. “Misery Bay” definitely leaves you wanting more Alex McKnight stories, and I hope Hamilton is typing away at his computer at this very moment.               

Wayne C. Rogers is the author of the horror novellas “The Encounter” and “The Tunnels,” both of which can be purchased at Amazon’s Kindle Store for 99 cents each.