Review

Ice Run: An Alex Mcknight Novel

by Steve Hamilton



I think I've figured out why Steve Hamilton's books are published
in June; if we read them in December, we'd all freeze. He writes so
effectively about winter that it's almost (almost, mind you)
refreshing to encounter five feet of snow in his books when you're
reading about it in summertime.

It's hard to believe that this is only Hamilton's sixth book; he
has received well-deserved awards from both PWA and MWA, and his
work is knock-out. One of Hamilton's strengths, along with a
strong, vivid sense of place, is his creation of well-defined
(off-beat, perhaps) characters; certainly people I've never
known or met before. Alex McKnight is a fascinating character; he's
a former cop whose career was destroyed in one horrible day when he
saw his partner gunned down (McKnight himself carries a bullet in
him from the same misery). He's a fiercely loyal friend who, until
recently, doesn't give himself much credit for his good
attributes.

In ICE RUN, McKnight is pursuing a quirky relationship with Ontario
cop Natalie Reynaud. Because of the events that drew the two
together, Alex is possibly one of the few people who understands
what Reynaud, who is on leave, is going through after the death of
her partner. There is much left unsaid between these two prickly
people. But McKnight recognizes that Natalie matters to him; he
proposes during one terribly snowy week that they meet in Soo,
Michigan at an old, elegant hotel. While there, they encounter a
very odd little man who addresses them, leaves them an unusual
souvenir and then disappears, later showing up dead in the snow.
Alex cannot figure out why the man was interested in him; only
after some hesitant discussion does Natalie reveal that her father
died in this town and that the strange man may know something about
it.

For many good reasons, revealed throughout the book, this is not a
smooth relationship. Because of her background, Natalie has trouble
trusting folks, and so it is difficult for people to get close to
her. Violence enters the scene early on, and Alex, who tends to
ignore anyone who tells him not to do something, encounters some
old hatred and incomprehensible behavior.

This wasn't my favorite book in the series. I had hoped, after
BLOOD IS THE SKY, which was a fairly wrenching story, that things
would lighten up just a little for McKnight and that he would be
able to consider finding some peace and happiness. That's not
impossible, but the level of violence and ugliness, the
confrontations and death in ICE RUN were at times a little hard to
take. But there's no question that I'll read future books in this
well-wrought series. Every book in this series is fresh and
intelligent. I learn about people --- not just about the main
characters, who intrigue me, but about the way people act and
behave --- and that's one major reason that I read mystery
fiction.

Steve Hamilton, who I happen to know is one of the nicest guys
around, is a major talent. When reviewing BLOOD IS THE SKY last
year, I remarked that it could have been such a "guy" book,
but it's so much more. The same is true here. Hamilton creates
original characters who make sense in their world; it's not a world
I know well, and I appreciate the trip every time I make it.

Reviewed by Andi Shechter on January 22, 2011

Ice Run: An Alex Mcknight Novel
by Steve Hamilton

  • Publication Date: May 31, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312932960
  • ISBN-13: 9780312932961