Saturday, July 21, 2018

Book Review: "Dead Man Running" by Steve Hamilton

One of the last things a man did before he and his wife went on a Mediterranean cruise was set up a security camera at their house. Maybe it seemed a little paranoid, but better safe than sorry, right?

When he's finally able to log on for the first time, his fears are unfounded—wait, why does the living room seem brighter than when they left? Did the front door just open? He watches, aghast, as an intruder enters their house and heads up to their bedroom. While he readies for the intruder to steal his wife's diamonds (which he didn't let her bring on the cruise), he is utterly unprepared for the woman's body on their bed. Not to mention what the intruder does to the body...

The intruder turns out to be Martin Livermore, a gifted scientist who is the suspect in the abduction and murder of at least five other women. The FBI has been hunting him for a while, but he's never been this sloppy before. When he is apprehended returning to the vacationers' home for another encounter with his latest victim, the feds feel victorious, but they can't help but wonder why it seems as if he was trying to get caught this time.

Livermore once again gets the upper hand, when he refuses to speak to anyone but Alex McKnight, a former police officer and private investigator from the small town of Paradise, Michigan. McKnight has no idea why Livermore has involved him, can't figure out any connection to this murderer whatsoever. But Livermore knows too much about him, and Alex is a crucial part of a tangled, dangerous plot that Livermore is about to put in motion.

With each action, Livermore ups the stakes, and as Alex races to figure out why the murderer has drawn him into his schemes, the danger continues to grow, and it threatens to affect him in places he'd never expect. How do you catch a criminal mastermind who has targeted you, who taunts you with his crimes, and knows your every step before you take it? Alex faces off with a relentless killer, and only one of them can survive.

In a veritable sea full of thriller writers, Steve Hamilton is the real deal. He's one of the rare breed of authors in this genre who can write pulse-pounding action scenes while creating characters with depth, characters you root for and care about. Every time I read another one of his books I say the same thing—I cannot understand why he isn't a household name, because his books are far superior (a little Michigan humor) to many more popular authors.

It was great to have Alex McKnight back again, but I definitely missed Paradise, and Vinnie, Jackie, and Leon. Still, it was good to see Alex have to leave his comfort zone and try and figure out his connection to Livermore. While I don't love villains who are always one step ahead of everyone else, and who can always outsmart law enforcement, Livermore was one creepy character who made me shudder. (His diversions were pretty dastardly.)

Dead Man Running is a prime example of a writer at his peak. If you've never read any of Hamilton's books, you don't know what you're missing. Whether you read his Alex McKnight series, his newer series featuring Nick Mason, or one of his standalone books, you'll see this is an author whose name you should see on books being read everywhere you look. Hopefully someday soon the world will catch on to what I've known for years—Hamilton is one of the best.

NetGalley, PENGUIN GROUP Putnam, and First to Read provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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