A Stolen Season, Steve Hamilton, St. Martin’s Minotaur, $22.95
A Stolen Season begins with a typical Upper Peninsula moment – a bunch of friends are waiting on a dock for Fourth of July fireworks when it begins snowing. Things get serious soon after, however, when a boat wrecks nearby, bringing some very nasty characters into Alex McKnight’s life. Not helping his mood is the fact that now that he’s finally surrendered his well guarded heart to Ontario Police officer Natalie Reynaud, she’s in another country, and on an undercover mission that precludes any but the most fleeting contact with him.
After one of those fleeting contacts things get much worse for Alex. Steve’s always admired other writers who are a little darker than himself, but in A Stolen Season, he takes the reader on a journey that’s as noir as they come. I want to use action movie cliches for this book like "This time it’s personal!" or "Sometimes a man has to cross the line!" – when you Taser your best friend, you know things are getting heavy – but the book itself is anything but a cliche. It’s one of the strongest entries in a brilliant series by one of mystery fiction’s best writers, vivid, viscerally moving, fast paced and just plain excellent. Hamilton’s an author who has more than fulfilled the promise of his Edgar for Best First Novel, and it’s past time he got serious consideration for Best Novel period. Let me be the first to nominate A Stolen Season.