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Dead Man Running: An Alex McKnight Novel


Dead Man Running: An Alex McKnight Novel

DEAD MAN RUNNING heralds the return of an old friend. We haven’t seen Alex McKnight in a while. Steve Hamilton has been concentrating recently on a different yet equally compelling series involving a dark and brooding character named Nick Mason, and hopefully we will see more of him in the future. Hamilton has always been a solid and dependable author, but his latest work meets and exceeds any reader’s expectations.

McKnight, an ex-cop and occasional private detective living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula region, tends to stick somewhat close to home as a general rule. DEAD MAN RUNNING takes him out of his comfort zone, and then some. A couple from Scottsdale, Arizona, is on a cruise when the husband, monitoring their wireless security online, witnesses a shocking tableau. It consists of a stranger walking through their home and a dead woman in their bed. Law enforcement is immediately notified, a trap is set, and the stranger --- the killer --- is captured. It becomes fairly clear rather quickly that the culprit, a man named Martin T. Livermore, wanted to be apprehended. He is then connected to a number of similar murders and drops a bombshell on investigators when he tells them that he has another victim who is not yet dead.

"DEAD MAN RUNNING is the real deal.... [T]he main attraction here is Livermore, who is as inventive an antagonist as you are likely to encounter this year."

Livermore promises to take the investigators to the location where he has the woman, who is in dire straits, but only if former Detroit policeman Alex McKnight is along for the ride. Arrangements are made to bring the very puzzled McKnight from his home in Paradise, Michigan, to the Maricopa County Jail where Livermore is being held. McKnight is so perplexed because he has no idea who Livermore is. He has never heard of him, doesn’t recognize him, and has not even the faintest recollection of ever crossing paths with him. Livermore, though, seems to know McKnight quite well, dropping hints of familiarity even as McKnight and a group of law enforcement personnel accompany him to a remote desert area where his latest victim is to be found.

Unfortunately, things go dramatically wrong, and Livermore --- with McKnight and an FBI agent in pursuit --- begins a long trek across the country with him taunting McKnight from afar and wreaking havoc on just about everyone who crosses his path. Livermore has a serious grudge against McKnight, and the reason is one that you will never see coming. There are also a couple of interesting twists in the final third of the book that enable Hamilton to ratchet up the suspense to stratospheric levels. And the ending? You won’t soon forget it, and it just might signal the start of a new development in the series.

DEAD MAN RUNNING is the real deal. Hamilton did his geographical homework while preparing to take McKnight to unexpected places (a small part of the book, interestingly enough, takes place two blocks from where my younger son lives), and it shows. However, the main attraction here is Livermore, who is as inventive an antagonist as you are likely to encounter this year. And should you not be familiar with McKnight, never fear. Hamilton brings newcomers into the fold with just enough backstory to make the totally new seem very familiar. You won’t want to miss DEAD MAN RUNNING, and you won’t want to put it down once you start reading it.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 24, 2018

Dead Man Running: An Alex McKnight Novel
by Steve Hamilton

  • Publication Date: August 27, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0399574468
  • ISBN-13: 9780399574467