Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hamilton's U.P. thrillers are a great read

Book 41: The Border Lords by T. Jefferson Parker

Book 45: A Stolen Season by Steve Hamilton

Book 47: Night Work by Steve Hamilton

Book 49: Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton

Four thrillers. I liked two – a lot.

First, the two novels that were OK, but only that – T. Jefferson Parker’s The Border Lords and Night Work by Steve Hamilton.

I’ll accept partial responsibility for my lukewarm stance toward Parker’s book. It’s part of a series, featuring Charlie Hood, an L.A. sheriff’s deputy on loan to the ATF. 

It’s always best to start a series at the beginning. Entering into the series at any other point is unfair to writer and reader. There’s so much back story; events that make complete sense to a dedicated reader of the series only mystify someone jumping in midstream.

The Border Lords is less about Hood than one of his ATF colleagues who goes rogue. The explanation for the agent’s bizarre behavior is equally bizarre. I won’t say more except to indicate I’ve never encountered anything like it in any previous novel.

Parker’s a talented writer. I thoroughly enjoyed his California Girl. Perhaps in the future I’ll give him another go, loop back to the beginning, read his first Charlie Hood novel and tackle the series in the way it’s meant to be read.

That’s exactly what I’ve done with Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight series, which is set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I’ve now read the man’s entire oeuvre.

A Stolen Season and Misery Bay are both part of that series.  Night Work is a one-off.

Frankly, I didn’t like Night Work.  It’s the first book by Hamilton I haven’t liked.  It was slow developing and I never took to the character the way I’ve embraced McKnight.

A Stolen Season and Misery Bay are exactly what I’ve come to expect from Hamilton – great characters, a vivid setting and a plot that moves along briskly. 

My next “project” is too read the complete works of C.J. Box – in chronological order.

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