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North of Nowhere: An Alex McKnight Novel [Mass Market Paperback]

Steve Hamilton
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 18 2003 Alex McKnight Novels (Book 4)
Steve Hamilton's debut novel A Cold Day In Paradise was the first novel to capture mystery's three most prestigious awards-the Edgar, the Shamus, and the Anthony awards for best first novel. Now North of Nowhere returns to the beautiful and dangerous landscapes of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where former Detroit cop Alex McKnight's attempts to leave civilization behind only lead to disaster...

Lying facedown on the floor with a gun to the back of his head is where Alex McKnight finds himself after a game of cards turns into a professional heist at the home of local developer Win Vargas. When the dust settles, McKnight is one of police chief Roy Maven's lead suspects. Worse, Vargas' own sense of vigilante justice has targeted the former private eye as well, and the brash millionaire may be responsible for the sudden disappearance of Alex's best friend, Jackie. Now, with officials pointed in the wrong direction and his closest allies either missing or in jail, Alex knows he is the only one who can uncover the truth. But McKnight can't possibly know how dark this conspiracy truly is-or how close to guilt he actually stands...

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North of Nowhere: An Alex McKnight Novel + The Hunting Wind: An Alex McKnight Mystery
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From Amazon

That Steve Hamilton has won a following by writing private-eye novels about a guy who has no interest in being a PI is testament both to his storytelling talents and readers' hunger for fresh approaches to this genre. North of Nowhere finds ex-Detroit cop Alex McKnight celebrating his 49th birthday by retreating to his cabin in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where he laments his personal and career failures. Eventually, though, McKnight is coaxed out with the prospect of a poker game, hosted by wealthy contractor Winston Vargas, only to have the game interrupted by armed men in masks, who empty Vargas's safe and leave clues suggesting that Alex and his fellow players engineered the heist.

Now, McKnight really has reason to feel sorry for himself. But instead, he goes after the gunmen, along the way swapping sucker punches with Vargas, shaking down his former detective partner (who videotaped the thieves' escape), and discovering that even his friends harbor secrets that could get them all killed.

This fourth McKnight outing (after 2001's The Hunting Wind) is a fine showcase for Hamilton's lithesome prose. The pace is brisk, the episodes often humorous, and the tale brims with an infectious reverence for its natural setting ("God help me, on a summer night when the sun is going down, it is the most beautiful place on earth"). If Hammett moved the detective story from the drawing room into the mean streets, Hamilton has proved that the north woods have their own potential for homicidal intrigue. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

No longer a cop, inactive as a private eye, classic loner Alex McKnight has retreated to his lakeside cabin in this superb yarn, Edgar-winner Hamilton's fourth after 2001's The Hunting Wind. In fact, Alex has become so much a recluse in the little town of Paradise in Michigan's Upper Peninsula that his few friends are worried about him. That leads Jackie Connery, the Scottish-raised proprietor of the bar where Alex sometimes hangs out, to badger him into joining a friendly power game at the home of Win Vargas. Before Alex can even work up a good dislike of the blustery, wealth-flaunting Vargas, three armed men interrupt the poker game. While Alex, Jackie and the other players are held at gunpoint, their host is led off to open a safe and his treasured collection of artifacts in trashed or stolen. From that quick beginning, events move swiftly and strangely. Alex finds Vargas's suspicions centering on him; the police, let my old enemy Chief Roy Maven, think Jack and the other players were in on the robbery. And Alex's ex-partner, PI Leon Prudell, turns out to have yet another take on who's behind the robbery. Hamilton keeps the action fast and furious and manages to keep the read off balance almost as much as his hero. As usual, Alex takes more than his share of lumps as he rediscovers the importance of friendship, loyalty and courage. While Alex McKnight would probably hate the idea, mysteries this good may make him extremely popular. Agent, Jane Chelius. (May 13)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a very fast and fully enjoyable read March 9 2004
By Larry
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Alex McKnight has returned to Paradise-Michigan, that is. In his fourth outing, summer has finally set in. It is July and the increasingly reclusive Alex is asked to attend a poker game with his good friend, Jackie, owner of the local bar that Alex frequents. Unfortunately, the poker game at the house of a wealthy local businessman, Winston Vargas, is interrupted by an armed robbery in which everyone is forced to the floor at gunpoint. Vargas, alone, is robbed as he is forced to open his safe. The aftermath is quite perplexing as half the men attending the game are arrested for the robbery. Alex is convinced they are innocent and does what he can to clear their names. However, things get increasingly violent as Alex gets closer to the truth.
Steve Hamilton, Edgar winner for best first novel A COLD DAY IN PARADISE has written one of his best novels yet. I am always impressed with his ability to give the locale a certain immediacy to the reader. The first two books in the series took place primarily in the winter cold. Now we get a feeling of this Upper Michigan location in the midst of the summer season. Life is very different as boating and fishing become the primary pastime of the residents and visitors. We are treated to in depth descriptions of this area frequented by tourists. Alex is a loner, yet, he proves in this book that he is a loyal friend who will stop at nothing to defend those he is closest to. His character gives this series the true sense of realism and makes every return visit a pleasure. Pacing is never a problem with Steve Hamilton and this novel is no exception as the book proves to be a very fast and fully enjoyable read. With his talent, Steve Hamilton deserves a much wider audience.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere Near the Best July 7 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Alex McKnight is a delight as always. The lyrical descriptions of Michigan's Upper Peninsula are a joy to read. However, the plot is contrived, convoluted and improbable. The cast burgeons until there are so many people involved; I ended up being indifferent to the outcome.
Alex is in a black depression. To get him out of the house, his good friend Jackie forces him to sit in on a poker game held at the opulent home of Winthrop Vargas. Armed robbers appear and rob Vargas' very secret safe. Suspicion of an inside job spreads to the poker regulars who were the only outsiders who knew Vargas had a safe and kept money in it. Murder of one of the robbers follows. Alex is galvanized into action to protect his friend Jackie. A wild boat chase on Lake Superior unmasks the wrongdoers.
Alex's former partner Archie provides some welcome comic moments. Alex enthusiastically chases so many red herrings, I lost faith. Many of the characters are stereotypical. I think Steve Hamilton needs to infuse Paradise with some new blood.
-sweetmolly-Amazon Reviewer
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Entry March 6 2003
Author Steve Hamilton has a nice feel for life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and his portrayal of life in that sparsely-populated place makes a great background for a mystery.
This title, North of Nowhere, tells a lot about that life and the
people who live there.
The hero, McKnight, is in the position many of us find ourselves,
getting older and wondering what in the world happened to his
great life, his ambitions, and his dreams. As his life has become
a series of perceived failures, he has become more reclusive
until he barely leaves his cabin except for a little Canadian beer
in a friend's quiet local tavern. And he is happy with that existence
until his buddy, who owns that tavern, challenges him to a
"friendly" poker game, and who goads him by telling McKnight
that if he can't play a little poker with some local guys, he ought
to be sent to the Yukon where he can really live alone.
So McKnight goes off for some friendly poker at the home of
a guy he doesn't know, and who seems a rather antagonistic
host, but he is determined to make the best of that situation,
get done, and never come back. But then the unbelieveable
happens, and some armed robbers crash the party, forcing the
homeowner to open his safe, and in the process destroying some
local artifacts he has collected.
Afterward, ex-cop McKnight is troubled by some of the events
and the people involved, so he can't keep out of it when one of
the robbers turns up dead, and the local police chief tells him to
keep out of the investigation.
From there, many surprises await McKnight as he tries to figure
out who the robbers were and whether they had some relatiionship
with the victim.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Murder and mayhem in Michigan. June 30 2002
Alex McNight, the former Detroit cop who lives a reclusive life in Paradise, Michingan, is back in "North of Nowhere," by Steve Hamilton. McNight has kept to himself a great deal lately. His good friend, Jackie Connery, proprietor of the Glasgow Inn, decides that Alex needs to get out more. Jackie invites Alex to play poker at the home of Win Vargas, a very wealthy man with a great many secrets. The evening ends disastrously, when Vargas's home is invaded by masked men who rob Vargas and vandalize his prized collection of artifacts.
Subsequently, several of Alex's friends who sat in on the poker game are arrested for being involved in the home invasion and Alex decides to do a little investigating of his own. He crosses paths with his old partner, private investigator Leon Purdell, who now works for Vargas. He also has words with his old nemesis, Police Chief Roy Maven, who hates Alex and would welcome any opportunity to arrest him.
In the course of his investigation, Alex gets beaten and shot at, but he is determined to get to the bottom of the strange goings-on around him. Who is really behind the robbery of Vargas's home and why are Alex's friends being framed?
Steve Hamilton has a relaxed prose style that is easy to take, and "North of Nowhere" moves along quickly. I have always liked Alex, who is down to earth and businesslike in his approach to life. He is not superhuman or driven, as are so many heroes in mystery-thrillers these days.
Unfortunately, by the time Alex gets to the bottom of who staged the robbery, lives have been lost and friendships have been irrevocably shattered. In "North of Nowhere," Steve Hamilton demonstrates how greed and selfishness often blind people to what truly matters in life.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Series!
I love this author Steve Hamilton. His books are exciting and I love the local flavour since I live on the Canadian side across the Bay from Lighthouse Point, a little west of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mary Kay
2.0 out of 5 stars Enough already
Get the man some Paxil and a good job. It gets to be too much. There is a great deal of difference between skillfully crafted noir-ish pain and sheer wallowing self pity which... Read more
Published on June 11 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars FRIENDS AND FOES?
Alex McKnight is back in full force again, and this time it his closest friends who become possible enemies in this tense game of cat and mouse. Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2003 by Michael Butts
4.0 out of 5 stars A Review from Nowhere
I live in Nowhere, Michigan...just south of where Steve Hamilton sets this novel. I enjoyed the novel, as I have enjoyed all of Hamilton's Alex McKnight novels, not only because... Read more
Published on June 22 2003 by Judith Lindenau
5.0 out of 5 stars Praise from a Travis McGee Fan
I thought I would never like a "Cold Weather Mystery" series. I have been hooked on John MacDonald's classic Travis McGee series for so long, which is set in South Florida, of the... Read more
Published on May 1 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Super series by a most refreshing writer.
In Steve Hamilton's fourth novel, "North of Nowhere", reluctant PI Alex McKnight continues to become entangled in problems not of his making that compel him back into the detective... Read more
Published on April 15 2003 by nobizinfla
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamilton Gives Us Another One.
Steve Hamilton has written another great mystery book. One of the reasons I like his books is their setting in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, close to home. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2003 by Janet Bonarski
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for several reasons...
I couldn't put this one down. First off, North of Nowhere
is extremely well written. The description of the
weather and terrain in Michigan's Upper Penninsula is... Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2002 by Charles R. Taylor, Villanova University
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner!
Steve Hamilton writes with great assurance--lean prose with exceptional characterizations and superior plotting. He has yet to disappoint. Read more
Published on June 27 2002 by Charlotte Vale-Allen
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