Hamilton, Steve 1961-
HAMILTON, Steve 1961-
PERSONAL: Born January 10, 1961, in Detroit, MI; son of Robert G. (a small-business owner) and Nonna L. (a graduate studies coordinator; maiden name, Smith) Hamilton; married Julia L. Antonietta, June 8, 1991; children: Nicholas G., Antonia. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: University of Michigan, B.A., 1983. Politics: Independent. Religion: Reformed Church of America. Hobbies and other interests: Golf.
ADDRESSES: Home—32 Corriedale Ln., Cotlekill, NY 12419. Agent—Jane Chelius, 548 Second St., Brooklyn, NY 11215. E-mail—[email protected] stevehamilton.com.
CAREER: Novelist. International Business Machines (IBM), Poughkeepsie, NY, information developer, 1983—; writer.
MEMBER: Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, Sisters in Crime.
AWARDS, HONORS: Hopwood Award, University of Michigan, 1983; Best First Private-Eye Novel, St. Martin's Press/Private-Eye Writers of America, 1997, Edgar Allan Poe Award, Mystery Writers of America, for best first novel, 1999, and Shamus Award for best first private-eye novel, 1999, all for A Cold Day in Paradise; Shamus Award nomination, 2003, for North of Nowhere.
A Cold Day in Paradise, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Winter of the Wolf Moon, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.
The Hunting Wind, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.
North of Nowhere, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Blood Is the Sky, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Ice Run, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Pirate Writings.
ADAPTATIONS: Several of Hamilton's books have been adapted for audiocassette.
SIDELIGHTS: Steve Hamilton's mystery novels center on the character Alex McKnight, a divorced, one-time minor league baseball player and former Detroit cop who now lives in a remote corner of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, renting out a few cabins to hunters, fishermen, and tourists. Although he has tried to isolate himself from the problems of the larger world, McKnight is dragged into problems nonetheless, most of them criminal. David Pitt in Booklist described McKnight as "the kind of fellow you'd like to meet—he'd shake your hand, buy you a beer, and, as long as you didn't get on his wrong side, be your friend for life."
Hamilton's first novel, A Cold Day in Paradise, won three major awards in the mystery field: the Best First Private Eye Novel from St. Martin's Press and the Private-Eye Writers of America (PWA), the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and the Shamus Award from the PWA. The novel was written for a writing contest. Hamilton told CA, "When I decided to try entering the contest, I figured I should try to write a novel that was true to the private eye 'formula'—you know, with the wise-cracking private eye sitting in his office, waiting for the next client to walk in. I couldn't do it." Frustrated, Hamilton sat down at his keyboard and let the story develop naturally. In an online interview with Anthony Rainone for January Hamilton explained: "I don't want to make it sound mystical—like this voice came to me from the heavens—but I got this idea for a character in the same mood I was in. Someone who was feeling like a failure, and he was by himself, like I felt by myself that night. So I started asking myself who this guy was and why he was feeling that way. And I got this idea for a character and started following it." "The story that came out was really more of a suspense story than a classic private eye story," Hamilton once told CA, "so I figured I had no chance of winning the contest. But then Robert Randisi, the president of PWA, called me one night to tell me I had won."
A Cold Day in Paradise tells of former-cop McKnight's move from Detroit to the small town of Paradise, Michigan, on the shore of Lake Superior. There he runs the camp his father left to him, renting out cabins to hunters, and only gets drawn back into his former life when two friends, a lawyer and a millionaire with a gambling problem, ask for his help. McKnight is reluctant to investigate, but when two bookmakers associated with the millionaire are murdered and the millionaire himself disappears under suspicious circumstances, McKnight is forced to become involved. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the novel's "clear, crisp writing, wily, colorful characters and an offbeat locale," calling A Cold Day in Paradise "an impressive debut."
McKnight returns in the novel Winter of the Wolf Moon. In this story the former cop subs as a hockey referee for a local team, but ends up defending an abused woman from her drug-dealing boyfriend. When the woman disappears, apparently kidnaped, McKnight and his Ojibway Indian friend Leon set out to find her. McKnight also has to convince the disbelieving police that there is a woman missing at all. Booklist's Pitt claimed the story is, "start to finish, an excellent mystery," while a critic for Publishers Weekly judged Winter of the Wolf Moon to be "a most entertaining tale, peppered with wry humor and real, amusing characters."
The Hunting Wind finds McKnight reunited with an old buddy from his minor-league baseball days. The friend wants McKnight's help in tracking down a girlfriend he has not seen in some thirty years. Although reluctant, McKnight agrees to help, and soon the pair are combing through old public records in an inept effort to find the woman. Their search unwittingly stirs up violent trouble, though, and McKnight must find out just why. A Publishers Weekly contributor found that "Hamilton's prose moves us smoothly along and his characters are marvelously real," concluding that The Hunting Wind is an "exceptionally entertaining novel." Connie Fletcher, writing in Booklist, claimed that "the surprise ending delivers a satisfying jolt."
McKnight turns fifty years old in North of Nowhere, an event that leads him into depression and an almost hermit-like isolation. His friend Jackie Connery, owner of the local pub, decides to take drastic action to cheer up McKnight, and drags his buddy off to a poker game at a local millionaire's summer house. But the friendly game is interrupted by robbers, who force the millionaire to open his safe and clean it out. The local police chief is convinced that McKnight's poker-playing friends were in on the robbery, and the only way to clear them is for the reluctant ex-cop to discover the true culprits. According to a Kirkus reviewer, Hamilton "spins a brisk, well-plotted tale brightened by his usual deft way with local color." "Hamilton keeps the action fast and furious," according to a critic for Publishers Weekly, "and manages to keep the reader off balance almost as much as his hero."
Blood Is the Sky finds McKnight trying to rebuild a cabin his father had first built, assisted by his friend Vinnie LeBlanc. But Vinnie soon faces a family crisis. His parolee brother Tom, a professional guide, has been reported missing in the Canadian woods. Because Tom has violated parole by leaving the country, Vinnie dares not report the disappearance to the authorities. Instead, he and McKnight set out to locate the missing man. Along the way they encounter violence, death, and mystery. On his Web site, Hamilton explained that he got the novel's plot from going with friends into remote northern Ontario on fishing trips: "The last time I went up there, I spent a lot of time imagining all of the bad things that can happen to you if you're stranded a hundred miles away from the nearest phone, or the nearest building, or the nearest anything. What happens if you get sick? Or if you have an accident? What do you do if you have to wait six or seven days for help to arrive? Worse yet, what do you do if you suddenly realize that the men who are finally flying out to you aren't coming to help you at all?" A contributor to Kirkus Reviews called Blood Is the Sky a "smart, brisk, twisty tale."
Speaking of the "McKnight" books, Rainone concluded: "Hamilton has so far eschewed the high-caliber pyrotechnics of many contemporary novels—action that emphasizes the heroic elements of this genre, but too often stretches believability. Yet he delivers all of the modern detective fiction essentials, including plot twists that the reader flat-out never sees coming."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2000, David Pitt, review of Winter of the Wolf Moon, p. 1088; August, 2000, Karen Harris, review of A Cold Day in Paradise (audio edition), p. 2163; May 1, 2001, Connie Fletcher, review of The Hunting Wind, p. 1630; March 1, 2002, Connie Fletcher, review of North of Nowhere, p. 1095; January 1, 2003, Ted Hipple, review of North of Nowhere (audio edition), p. 920; May 1, 2003, Connie Fletcher, review of Blood Is the Sky, p. 1545.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2002, review of North ofNowhere, p. 292; April 1, 2003, review of Blood Is the Sky, p. 508.
Library Journal, January, 2000, Rex E. Klett, review of Winter of the Wolf Moon, p. 166; May 1, 2003, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of Blood Is the Sky, p. 155.
Publishers Weekly, July 6, 1998, review of A ColdDay in Paradise, p.53; January 17, 2000, review of Winter of the Wolf Moon, p. 46; May 21, 2001, review of The Hunting Wind, p. 85; March 18, 2002, review of North of Nowhere, p. 80.
January,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (May, 2002), Anthony Rainone, "The Education of Steve Hamilton" (interview).
Steve Hamilton Web site,http://www.authorstevehamilton.com (November 13, 2003).*