I recently discovered Steve Hamilton and read his work entitled The Lock Artist, a book I thoroughly enjoyed. So when the opportunity arose to procure an advance copy of his latest, a thriller called Misery Bay, I jumped at the chance.
Misery Bay stars a character called Alex McKnight. McKnight has, apparently, appeared before in previous Hamilton works, but my unfamiliarity with McKnight proved inconsequential. Hamilton eased me into McKnight’s world by utilizing an organic, smooth narrative style that subtly revealed the character’s history. In fact, so seamless was Hamilton’s introduction of McKnight that I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if this was the character’s first appearance!
McKnight is a former Detroit cop who now resides in Paradise, a frigid little town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. McKnight has a long history of tragedy, one I won’t spoil here, but the man keeps a good sense of sardonic humor about him and is, by all accounts, a capable protagonist. He doesn’t particularly want to be a hero, however, and is very much at ease hanging out at his favorite bar and drinking his favorite beer.
Through a series of gruesome events, though, McKnight finds himself ensnared in a case involving multiple suicides and murders, all involving state police officers and their children. Honor and duty binds him to the case, and while he doesn’t necessarily want to take on the role of “detective,” he can’t turn his back on those in need of help. In the end, it’s a grisly affair, one that will shock you and keep you on the edge of your seat.
Hamilton’s writing style is fluid and conversational with a special emphasis on realistic, dynamic dialogue. Though there’s a mystery in Misery Bay, I’m not sure I would classify it as such. I would be more comfortable calling it a thriller. There’s plenty of action, humor, gore, and even a touch of drama which all come together to form a true page-turner. Michael Connelly and James Patterson offer favorable quotes in regards to Hamilton and his McKnight, and after reading Misery Bay I can understand why!