It’s January and not only Paradise, Michigan, but indeed most of the North is being lashed with snowstorms. Still, Alex McKnight, ex-cop, ex-P.I., and now just a guy who rents out cabins but still manages to get involved in mysteries, is willing to brave the horrendous weather to meet with Natalie Reynaud, the Canadian police officer with whom he’s begun a tentative across-the-border romance. During their weekend at the Ojibway Hotel at Soo, Michigan, they have a strange encounter with an old man who leaves a hat filled with snow and an ominous note saying “I know what happened” on their doorstep.
Before long, the old man turns up dead and his relatives beat McKnight to within an inch of his life. Filled with rage and pain, aching for revenge, McKnight begins to wonder if this is somehow connected to Natalie’s dad being murdered in Soo some fifteen years back. Sometimes together, sometimes apart, the two of them dig into the past to find answers, only to be shocked as deadly secrets come to light. In light of recent events, Alex and Natalie’s budding romance, which was always shaky due to Natalie’s emotional problems, seems ready to wither and die. As the body count rises, can they, their relationship, and their very lives survive?
Author Steve Hamilton has carved a neat little niche in the mystery genre with his award-winning series featuring private investigator Alex McKnight, and deservedly so. Fans both old and new will surely find Ice Run to be a chilling and highly suspenseful thriller despite the somewhat slow and winding start. But in a few chapters, a summary of events til now is succinctly presented ,and the harrowing tale begins in a deceptively innocuous manner. The chills, spills and thrills are non-stop from then on, with a mystery that’s as serpentine as it is difficult to solve.
Natalie Reynaud is one difficult character to comprehend, as much for Alex McKnight as for the readers; as such, her very unpredictability adds a dangerous edge to the tale. McKnight feels very real as he battles his own misgivings and romantic feelings, and the way he never lies to himself and his unwavering loyalty towards his friends, is commendable. The "to be or not to be" feel of their romance also serves to keep the readers on edge while characters and situations from previous books are carried over, lending an air of continuity. Conflicts are so many and of such different shades as to make readers go back and read this book again and again. Hamilton’s knack for expertly portraying locales and locals, accurately capturing the subtle differences between countries, people and general attitude, and overall making the hoary ambiance come alive, serves to make this book a well-rounded read. Overall, it can easily be said that this is neither a book nor a series to be missed.