Dead Man Running

[Amazon Link]

This is billed as a "reboot" of Steve Hamilton's series of Alex McKnight novels. Alex is an ex-ballplayer, ex-cop, ex-private eye; all he really wants to do is live a quiet life in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, managing his small camping-cabin business, going to his favorite bar to drink Canadian Molson some nights.

But trouble keeps finding Alex. This trouble is particularly nasty: an extremely perverse serial killer has been captured out in Arizona, says that his latest victim isn't quite dead yet, but will only reveal her location to Alex. The cops in charge have little option but to immediately get Alex flown down to Arizona. Alex has absolutely no idea why the killer has singled him out, but he's game if it can save an innocent life.

Slight spoiler: the innocent's life is not saved. Instead, the tables are turned in a dreadful bloodbath. The killer goes on the loose, and things quickly turn into a cross-country violence-filled cat-and-mouse game. Unfortunately, Alex finds himself dancing to the killer's whims.

And that's sorta the problem. Alex doesn't use his detecting skills much at all. Again, slight spoiler as an example: the killer plants a GPS tracker on Alex's rental car midbook. Eventually, it's revealed to Alex that the killer knows exactly where he is! And it doesn't occur to Alex to ponder this for three seconds: Gee, I wonder how the killer knew exactly where I was?

This made me wonder whether Steve Hamilton initially meant this to be an Alex McKnight novel at all. It's a page turner, sure. And it's good, if you can stand the considerable amount of perverse, explicit violence. But there's not a lot of detecting going on.