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Blood Is the Sky: An Alex McKnight Mystery [Hardcover]

Steve Hamilton
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 24 2003 Alex McKnight Mysteries (Book 5)
"When a fire is done, what’s left is only half-destroyed. It is charred and brittle. It is obscene. There is nothing so ugly in all the world as what a fire leaves behind, covered in ashes and smoke and a smell you’ll think about every day for the rest of your life."

Steve Hamilton is one of crime fiction’s rising stars. His first novel, A Cold Day in Paradise, won the Edgar Award, and each successive novel has met with widespread critical acclaim. Now Hamilton raises the stakes dramatically in his most accomplished work to date.

Reluctant investigator Alex McKnight finds himself drawn by friendship into a long drive north. The brother of Alex’s longtime Ojibwa friend Vinnie LeBlanc works as a hunting guide, serving the rich clients from downstate. It seems that Vinnie’s brother and his most recent group of hunters have vanished in northern Ontario, and Vinnie is scared enough to ask Alex to help him find them.

Their arrival sets in motion a heart-pounding string of events that leaves Alex and his friend miles from civilization, stranded in the heart of the Canadian wilderness with no food, no weapons---and no way out. And there’s someone out there who definitely does not want them to make it back alive.

At once elegant and enormously suspenseful, Steve Hamilton’s Blood Is the Sky heralds his arrival as one of the premier crime writers working today.

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From Amazon

One of the most promising secondary figures in Steve Hamilton's series about reluctant northern Michigan PI Alex McKnight has always been his teetotaling Ojibwa Indian pal, Vinnie LeBlanc. But Vinnie remained mostly to himself through the first four McKnight adventures. Blood Is the Sky finally lets him loose, and it's both a pleasure and painful to see what results.

Vinnie's younger, ex-con brother, Tom, has disappeared. In violation of his parole, Tom had guided a small contingent of moose hunters into the pacific forests of Ontario, but none of them had returned home on schedule. To assuage Vinnie's worries, McKnight agrees to drive with him into Canada and look for the men. No luck; the owners of a money-losing lakeside lodge where those sportsmen had stayed say they departed days ago. So where did they go? Who were the two other, unidentified guys who came looking for them in advance of McKnight and his friend? And why was the hunters' vehicle abandoned, with their wallets inside, near an Indian reservation? Looking for answers, the detective and Vinnie set off into the woods, where hungry bears are by no means the most dangerous creatures they'll have to face.

Despite its Deliverance-like moments, and an explosively violent conclusion that's not sufficiently foreshadowed, Blood Is the Sky is really a gracefully composed study of character, as focused on Vinnie's strengths and failings as Hamilton's previous novel, North of Nowhere, was on the backstory of another series regular, bar owner Jackie Connery. Yet McKnight shines here, too, his self-effacing humor keeping readers amused, when they aren't amazed--again--by the lengths to which this supposedly lonerish sleuth will go to help a friend in trouble. --J. Kingston Pierce

From Publishers Weekly

Edgar winner Hamilton's engrossing novel of revenge, the fifth in his Alex McKnight series (after 2002's North of Nowhere), alternates between well-paced action fraught with danger and Alex's slow, meticulous inquiries. A former Detroit cop sidelined by a bullet, Alex is living quietly in Michigan's remote Upper Peninsula when he agrees to help an Ojibway friend, Vinnie Red Sky LeBlanc. Vinnie's searching for his black sheep brother, Tom, who hasn't returned from a job guiding a hunting party of wealthy Detroit men in the Canadian wilderness. The staff of an isolated lodge on an island-dotted lake arouses Alex and Vinnie's suspicions with their unsatisfactory explanations about the hunting party's trip. Then the anxious wives report their husbands are missing to the Ontario Provincial Police, leading Alex and Vinnie deeper into an investigation that eventually points to a crime in Detroit in 1985. The fate of Tom's hunting party becomes apparent early on, as the reader gets drawn into a complex series of inexplicable, and highly improbable, coincidences. Nonetheless, Hamilton develops his plot carefully. A fine writer, he excels at describing the lonely locale as well as depicting such memorable characters as tough-minded cop Natalie Reynaud and Maskwa, a 70-year-old Cree still flying his clapped-out plane around the Canadian skies.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A-1 Feb. 11 2004
Format:Hardcover
This is the best mystery written yet by Steve Hamilton, and his
writing skills have to be experienced to be believed.
If a reader can read his description of being lost in the north
of Canada, while alone, and not feel some of the nervousinous
of being lost themselves, then such reader must not be concentrating on the exposition.
Here, hero Alex McKnight, a semi-retired Detroit cop who has sought the refuge of a lonely existence up in the U.P., is drawn into helping his equally-reclusive neighbor, Vinnie, a member of the local Ojibwa tribe. Vinnie's brother hasn't returned from guiding a hunting party into the wilds of Ontario,
and the family is worried. Vinnie especially so because he has
loaned his ID to the brother because his brother is a convicted
felon and would get into serious trouble for leaving Michigan
to go into Canada.
Vinnie finally explains to Alex why he did such a stupid thing,
but that only encourages Alex to "sign up" and agree to help
Vinnie look for the missing group.
So off they go, driving along the shore of Lake Superior, into
the northern wilds of Ontario, and they keep driving until they
run out of road and have to go off-road to a desolate lake, where they meet a group in the process of closing up their lodge. All hunters have already left, and the lodge staff is getting ready to return home for the winter, perhaps for good.
Alex and Vinnie have to explore further, and they run into Detroit mobsters, unhelpful Indians, a couple of bar brawlers,
as well as an unlikely team of Ontario Provincial Police constables.
Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling On More Than One Level Jan. 3 2004
Format:Hardcover
After his recent adventures, chronicled in the previous book North Of Nowhere, Alex McKnight is attempting to pick up the pieces of his life by rebuilding his cabin with the help of Vinnie Le Blanc, an Ojibwa indian who is his friend and neighbour. Breaking the reverie that comes with the rebuilding process is news that Vinnie's brother Tom is way overdue from a hunting expedition in Canada where he was to act as a guide. The two men decide to head north in a bid to track Tom's movements and try to find him. From here the story turns into a fight for survival in the wilds of North Canada.
As Alex and Vinnie uncover the story of what happened up at the hunting lodge, more questions come up than are answered. They realise too late that their lives have become endangered but can't work out why. Of course, they aren't given terribly long to work on the why part of the question because they are kept busy working overtime trying to save their own skins.
It's a tantalising thriller that had me guessing right up towards the very end. Thrown in with this are the wonderful descriptions of the untamed wilderness of Ontario that was brilliantly captured by Hamilton. I found the story compelling reading on more than just one level making it doubly enjoyable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Test of Friendship Aug. 24 2003
By SDRTX
Format:Hardcover
BLOOD IS THE SKY is really divided into thirds. The story begins with Alex McKnight rebuilding a cabin his father built in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. His Indian friend, Vinnie LeBlanc,ends up helping him.
The first 100 pages deal mostly with rebuilding their friendship that became strained in NORTH OF NOWHERE, along with the cabin. Extremely poignant characterization dealing with loyalty, male bonding, test of friendship, and difference of culture.
In the second third of the book, action really picks up when Vinnie's brother, Tom, disappears. Tom, an ex-convict and ex-drug addict is trying to get his life into order. He takes a job as a moose-hunting guide in the wilds of Canada. Tom and his Detroit hunting party disappear without a trace. Alex and Vinnie head to Canada to find him. Events happen that strands Alex and Vinnie a very remote wilderness with little more than the clothes on their backs. Here their survival skills come into full-play. Fast-paced, page-turning action in this section.
The last third of the book deals with the why of what happened. There are plenty of surprises in store. I like the way Steve Hamilton can unravel his stories without a lot of misdirection, but at the same time keep the suspense level high.
Steve Hamilton is one of the finest crime writers working today. He continually weaves together detailed plotting, compelling primary and secondary characters, and heart-pounding action.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Blood Is The Sky is excellent! Aug. 10 2003
Format:Hardcover
Blood Is The Sky - Steve Hamilton
This was my first Alex McKnight novel and it blew me away.
Alex McKnight, former Detroit police detective, beings to rebuild his previously destroyed (the last book maybe) log cabin in Paradise, Michigan, when a friend appears with bad news. Vinnie has lost his brother and needs Alex's help to find him. The two set off on a trail which takes them into the mountains and lakes of deepest Canada.
Switched identities, fearsome bears, moose with bad road sense and a deep, dark conspiracy test Alex and Vinnie's resilience and relationship to the limit. At once sad and funny, Hamilton has a great way of describing his surroundings, in what is obviously a well researched or well loved locality. You can feel the cold clammy weather under your shirt and you can imagine the miles and miles of unbroken forestland ahead of you. The camaraderie between Alex and Vinnie is excellent and all the other characters are carefully drawn.
In summary; great characters and an excellent plot, with a few twists to keep you on your feet, make this a sure fire award winner in the thriller genre.
Highly recommended.
Andrew Poole
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamilton's Thriller a Winner
My latest read is Steve Hamilton's Blood Is The Sky.

Ex-Detroit cop Alex McKnight has traded in the noise of the city for the quiet of building a log cabin on Lake... Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2011 by James A. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars His Novels Get Better and Better!
I've read them all, and each one is better than the last. Buy it. You won't be disappointed.
Published on June 13 2004 by Mr. R. H. Thompson
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong Blood Ties
Alex McKnight travels to the woods of north Ontario with Ojibway friend Vinnie LeBlanc in a search for Vinnie's brother, Tom, hired as a guide for five Detroit gangsters, all of... Read more
Published on Dec 7 2003 by Tim Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Blood is the Sky recaptures that feeling of danger-at-every-turn excitement that got me hooked on this series when I read A Cold Day in Paradise. Read more
Published on Oct. 13 2003 by "dfchen"
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood is the Sky
Steve Hamilton, does it again. I have read all of his books and by far found this to be the best.
Alex sets out with Vinnie to help him find his brother Tom, who is long... Read more
Published on Aug. 19 2003 by SLP books
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best mystery writers today...
The author's first two mysteries in this series were absolutely excellent. Since then there has been an inevitable by slight drop in quality. Read more
Published on July 31 2003 by Roger Long
5.0 out of 5 stars another great page turner
This is yet another great story in the McKnight series that I was sorry to see end. The descriptions and characters are so realistic that the reader really does feel like they're... Read more
Published on July 13 2003 by Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Suspense
This is the fifth book in the Alex McKnight series about a former cop turned rental agent that works in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, on the shore of Lake Superior. Read more
Published on June 26 2003 by Connie Rutter
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
"Blood is the Sky" is perfect. It is suspenseful, it is respectful, it is intelligent, and it is just about the best mystery ever written!!! Read more
Published on June 26 2003 by Arthur L. Hellyer
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