Blood Is the Sky: An Alex McKnight Mystery by Steve Hamilton
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
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Test of Friendship, August 24, 2003
from Plano, TX United States
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.