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Cover image for Let it burn
Let it burn


First edition.
New York : Minotaur Books, 2013.
Physical Description:
viii, 276 pages ; 25 cm
Series title(s):
General Note:
"A Thomas Dunne book."
Reluctantly returning to Detroit to reconnect with a woman and confront the trauma of a shooting that left his partner dead, Alex McKnight investigates an untapped clue and discovers that the man sentenced for the crime may not have been the killer.


Call Number
MYSTERY Hamilton, S.

On Order



Alex McKnight swore to serve and protect Detroit as a police officer, but a trip to Motown these days is a trip to a past he'd just as soon forget. The city will forever remind him of his partner's death and of the bullet still lodged in his own chest.

Then he gets a call from his old sergeant. A young man Alex helped put away--in the one big case that marked the high point of his career--will be getting out of prison. When the sergeant invites Alex downstate to have a drink for old times' sake, it's an offer he would normally refuse. However, there's a certain female FBI agent he can't stop thinking about, so he gets in his truck and he goes back to Detroit.

While there, he's reminded of something about that young man's case, a seemingly small piece of the puzzle that he never got to share. It's not something anyone wants to hear, but Alex can't let go of the feeling that they arrested the wrong man. And that the real killer not only got away, but went on to kill again.

Let it Burn continues the acclaimed Alex McKnight series by two-time Edgar award-winner and New York Times bestselling author Steve Hamilton.

Author Notes

Steve Hamilton was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1961. He graduated from the University of Michigan where he won the Hopwood Award for fiction. He is the author of the Alex McKnight Mystery series. A Cold Day in Paradise won the Private Eye Writers of America/St. Martin's Press Award for Best First Mystery by an Unpublished Writer and the Edgar and Shamus Awards for Best First Novel. The Lock Artist won the 2011 Edgar Award. In 2006, he won the Michigan Author Award for his outstanding body of work. His current bestseller is The Second Life of Nick Mason. He also works for IBM.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Edgar-winner Hamilton puts a fresh twist on the archetypical tough-guy cop with a heart of gold in his 10th Alex McKnight novel (after 2012's Die a Stranger). The upcoming release of Darryl King, a murderer McKnight helped put behind bars, draws the old cop out of near-isolation in the remote town of Paradise, Mich., and brings him back to Detroit-or, rather, what's left of it. McKnight has a gut instinct that King may not have been guilty of the crime after all. As he reaches out to old contacts, including the detective who obtained King's confession, McKnight becomes convinced that the case isn't as airtight as it appeared at the time. Hamilton's prose feels most human at the moments when McKnight surveys the emerging ruins of Detroit, like an archeologist come too soon to the excavation site. Yet the intrigue, like McKnight's gut instinct, sometimes seems based on little more than a feeling. Agent: Jane Chelius, Jane Chelius Literary Agency. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Michigan's Upper Peninsula will have to take care of itself this time. A newly paroled convict has recalled Alex McKnight (Misery Bay, 2011, etc.) to Detroit past and present. Before a shooting sidelined him from the Detroit PD, Alex helped put away Darryl King, a 16-year-old black kid he saw running from the scene of Wayne State student Elana Paige's murder. Over several grueling days, Alex first chased the boy, then went through volume after volume of mug shots and finally played a key role in the arrest that was credited to Detective Arnie Bateman. Now Alex's old sergeant, Tony Grimaldi, wants him to know that Darryl is back on the street. Alex, who admits that "I don't have much of a talent for putting things out of my mind," can't stop himself from making the five-hour drive down to Detroit, where he has dinner with FBI agent Janet Long and improbably shares milk and chocolate cake with Darryl's mother, Jamilah King, who thinks he's come to apologize for locking up the wrong man. And, in fact, the more Alex thinks about it, the more he wonders if Darryl really did stab Elana Paige to death. Just as he's convinced himself that Darryl's mother is right after all, Arnie Bateman is killed under circumstances that make Darryl look guiltier than ever. So Alex is left in the ironic position of desperately trying to track down and vindicate a man he was once equally desperate to track down and lock up. Hamilton always gives good value, and this swift-moving, moody tale is no exception, even if the very last twist is perhaps one too many.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

A teenager Alex McKnight helped arrest for a savage murder is being released from prison. McKnight decides to make a sentimental journey to Detroit, scene of his finest hours as a cop as well as subsequent events that derailed his life and caused him to seek refuge on Michigan's remote Upper Peninsula. But soon after his arrival in the city, he begins to think he may have helped send an innocent teenager to prison, and he is determined to set things right. Let It Burn reads like several different kinds of novel. It begins with a man approaching 60, looking back ruefully on events that ended the life he'd anticipated. Then, in flashback, it describes the frantic hunt for the murderer before returning to the present and becoming a private-eye novel. By turns, it is either gauzy and impressionistic or a minutely detailed procedural. McKnight's vision of now-devastated Detroit is tremendously compelling, but the changes in tone are jarring, and several plot convolutions at the book's end strain credulity.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Hamilton's Edgar Award-winning series is back with number ten (after Die a Stranger). McKnight must confront an old case that still haunts him from his days as a cop in Detroit. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.