So much did I enjoy the first book in the Alex McKnight series - A Cold Day in Paradise - that I just couldn't wait to start this one, the second. But while I enjoyed it enough to give it a 4-star rating, I have to say that if I were to be super-honest, it's probably closer to a 3.5; it just didn't quite measure up to its predecessor.
Mostly, I think, that's because the story just didn't excite me very much. Yes, former cop McKnight still lives in the remote Upper Peninsula of Michigan - one of my all-time favorite places to visit. But this one takes place in the dead of winter (I like cold weather and even snow, but winter weather here in Ohio is a walk in the park compared with what happens up there, where, we were told, UPS deliveries to Mackinac Island come by way of the frozen lake - a more direct route than the roads ). My other complaint, though relatively minor, is that while I love tough guys who can both dish it out and take it, there are limits on what any human body can withstand - and anything that exceeds those limits becomes (to me) unbelievable.
The story begins as winter sets in with a vengeance, and a woman from the local Ojibwa tribe seeks out McKnight's help in getting away from an abusive boyfriend - a nasty guy who had a run-in with McKnight when they played ice hockey on opposing teams a day or two earlier (McKnight's friend Vinnie LeBlanc, also an Ojibwa, recruited him to serve as goalie). McKnight lets the woman stay in one of the cabins he rents out to fishermen (and presumably women) and snowmobilers; but the next morning, she's nowhere to be found.
Unhappy that he didn't do more to help her, McKnight sets out to find her - with help from his new "partner," Leon Prudell, who's hell-bent to pair his name with McKnight's on a jointly owned private investigation firm. McKnight isn't at all amenable to that concept, but getting rid of Prudell turns out to be almost as difficult as finding the woman and the abusive boyfriend. Their relationship does, though, provide a bit of much-needed comic relief from the cold and physical tribulations that plague McKnight throughout the book.
All in all, this is an enjoyable book and certainly didn't change my mind about reading all 10 books in the series. Still, I'm hoping the third one will be on a par (or better than) the first. We'll see!
Winter of the Wolf Moon by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur Books Reprint, April 2007); 288 pp.