Jim's Reviews > A Stolen Season

A Stolen Season by Steve Hamilton
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's review
Aug 20, 08

bookshelves: police-and-thieves, wisconsin-and-up-north, fiction
Read in August, 2008

In the world of Alex McKnight, no good deed goes unpunished. He helps rescue some guys after a nasty accident out on the lake, and they turn out to be professional criminals with an underdeveloped sense of gratitude. Pretty soon, Alex is forced to deal with drug-smugglers, gun-runners, and a failing long-distance relationship with Ontario Police Constable Natalie Reynaud.

As always, Steve Hamilton makes good use of his setting in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to set mood. For all its peace and beauty, the UP also has its dark side. It's a place where the outdoors can kill you. The dark pine forests, brooding Lake Superior, and the loneliness of the place make for a feeling of menace. These aspects serve to convey the protagonist's isolation and vulnerability. The story is set in one of those northwoods summers when it never seems to get warm, symbolizing the sense that things are not as they should be, that life is failing to meet its promise. It fits with Alex McKnight's jaded worldview.

In McKnight, Hamilton has created and developed a cynical, world-weary protagonist, whose life has been a series of disappointments and disasters. Yet, he struggles on and tries to maintain his sense of right. McKnight's character is depressed but not depressing.

I ended up loving this book, but it took me a while to warm to it. I found that the relationship with Natalie didn't fit with the brooding loner aspects of the protagonist. It seemed artificial, somehow, although it did become an important part of the plot. I should say that my liking for the previous entries in the series kept me going, and by page 75, I was hooked.


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