Night Work

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Another reading project, catching up with the oeuvre of Steve Hamilton, a fine mystery writer. His previous books were in the Alex McKnight (ex-ballplayer, ex-cop, ex-private eye) series, set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This one is a "standalone"; the protagonist/narrator is Joe Trumbell, a probation officer in upstate New York.

Why yes, I did read two mysteries in a row set in upstate New York. Good catch.

Joe is kind of a mopey guy; his fiancée, Laurel, was brutally murdered a couple of years previous. He lives over an old bus station, converted into a boxing gym. He has a huge collection of jazz records. (And, like a lot of jazz fans, he can't stop yammering about jazz.)

He decides to try dating once more, however. And he hits it off with his first blind date, Marlene. But… yes, you saw this coming: Marlene gets brutally murdered too. Joe is understandably upset, but so is the local police force, and the NY staties. And (of course) Joe's a suspect. And the book is written in such a way that I wasn't sure that Joe shouldn't be a suspect; he pretty clearly has Issues.

The book is kind of long and it feels very, very padded. Not only with the jazz stuff, but Joe's seeming obsession with describing every building, every bit of scenery, every bit of room decor… As I've said about other works, I suspect Hamilton's book contract specified a certain number of pages be delivered.

Still, it works well as a thriller, and I certainly sped through it to find out what happened and whodunit.