Alex McKnight

Created by Steve Hamilton

 “There is a bullet in my chest, less than a centimeter from my heart.  I don’t think about it much anymore.”
— opening line, A Cold Day in Paradise

Paradise is a small town on Michigan’s upper peninsula, hidden among the pine trees on the shores of Lake Superior. There you’ll find ALEX McKNIGHT, once a minor league catcher, and later a big city cop in Detroit. But he had to leave the forc after a particularly bloody shootout which left him with a few bullet holes in his body, including one bullet they just couldn’t dig out. Seems it’s perilously close to his heart.

So now it’s the quiet life for him.

Or at least that’s the plan. Alex lives in one of a string of cabins left to him by his late father, renting out the others to tourists in the summer, hunters in the fall, and snowmobilers in the winter, while doing the gloomy, doomy thing, trying to shake his past. He only reluctantly leaves the woods to take on private investigative work, at the urging of a local lawyer or, occasionally, his overly-enthusiastic partner Leon Prudell. Seems our boy Alex has a hard time saying “No.”

But all in all, he’d rather just have a Molson.

“The one thing that’s going to set this character apart from most other private eyes,” says the author, “is the fact that he has absolutely no interest in being a private eye in the first place. He gets talked into it in this first book, and it turns out to be a big mistake. I’m going to see just how many books I can do, in fact, without him ever actually taking an official case.”

Quite a few, it turns out. Alex’s promising debut, 1998’s A Cold Day in Paradise was the St. Martin’s Press/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Contest winner of 1997, and eventually won an Edgar and a Shamus, making Hamilton the only author so far to win both awards for his first novel. Since then, although he’s written several other novels, but he keeps coming back to Alex. So far, he’s written nine follow-ups, the latest being Dead Man Running (2018).

The books never quite set the world on fire, but they’re affable and always entertaining, intent on getting the job done.

Kinda like Alex himself, they’re the sort of books — or person — you wouldn’t mind having a beer with.


  • “(Alex) must be hard-boiled if he can put on hockey goalie equipment for the first time at about age 40 and play goal against some top players, as he does here. To a hockey player like myself, that’s science fiction.”
    — Kent Morgan (from Winnipeg) on Winter of the Wolf Moon
  • “Hamilton is a superb storyteller.  If you haven’t read him, do yourself a favor.”
    Mike Hayes



  • “Beneath the Book Tower ” (May 2011, digital)Kindle it!


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks, as usual, for keeping me honest, Jan.

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