Letters

Letters 10-27-2014

Paging Doctor Dan: The doctor’s promise to repeal Obamacare reminds me of the frantic restaurant owner hurrying to install an exhaust fan after the kitchen burns down. He voted 51 times to replace the ACA law; a colossal waste of money and time. It’s here to stay and he has nothing to replace it.

Evolution Is Real Science: Breathtaking inanity. That was the term used by Judge John Jones III in his elegant evisceration of creationist arguments attempting to equate it to evolutionary theory in his landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education decision in 2005.

U.S. No Global Police: Steven Tuttle in the October 13 issue is correct: our military, under the leadership of the President (not the Congress) is charged with protecting the country, its citizens, and its borders. It is not charged with  performing military missions in other places in the world just because they have something we want (oil), or we don’t like their form of government, or we want to force them to live by the UN or our rules.

Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?: I walk the [Grand Traverse] Commons frequently and sometimes I include the loop up to the cistern just to go and see how the art on the cistern has evolved. Granted there is the occasional gross image or word but generally there is a flurry of color.

NMEAC Snubbed: Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is the Grand Traverse region’s oldest grassroots environmental advocacy organization. Preserving the environment through citizen action and education is our mission.

Vote, Everyone: Election Day on November 4 is fast approaching, and now is the time to make a commitment to vote. You may be getting sick of the political ads on TV, but instead, be grateful that you live in a free country with open elections. Take the time to learn about the candidates by contacting your county parties and doing research.

Do Fluoride Research: Hydrofluorosilicic acid, H2SiF6, is a byproduct from the production of fertilizer. This liquid, not environmentally safe, is scrubbed from the chimney of the fertilizer plant, put into containers, and shipped. Now it is a ‘product’ added to the public drinking water.

Meet The Homeless: As someone who volunteers for a Traverse City organization that works with homeless people, I am appalled at what is happening at the meetings regarding the homeless shelter. The people fighting this shelter need to get to know some homeless families. They have the wrong idea about who the homeless are.

Home · Articles · News · Books · Misery Bay Probes an Unlikely...
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Misery Bay Probes an Unlikely Suicide

Glen Young - July 25th, 2011
Misery Bay Probes an Unlikely Suicide
By Glen Young
Fictional sleuth Alex McKnight is back and his fans are pleased, but no
more so than his creator, Michigan-born author Steve Hamilton.
Returning in his eighth novel, McKnight ventures west from his home base
in Paradise to ominously named Misery Bay, where he is asked to
investigate the suicide of a college student, a young man who appeared to
have it all, but who instead hangs himself from a large, lonely tree near
the shores of Lake Superior.
After a five year hiatus that saw Hamilton publish a second stand-alone
novel “The Lock Artist,” Hamilton decided McKnight’s return should have
the reluctant hero veer west. “I knew he had never gone west in the
U.P.,” Hamilton says. “I knew it was very different out that way; I knew
he’d have to wander out that way some time and get in trouble.”
Hamilton knew the only way he could have McKnight find the mystery of the
western U.P. was to travel there himself, so he drove the Seney Stretch
along M-28, eventually landing in the tiny town of Toivola. When he saw
the nearby sign for Misery Bay, Hamilton knew he had found the right spot.
“It’s not even on the map, unless you have a really good map,” he says of
the bay.

IMAGINING DETAILS
Absorbed in an environment he describes as “forlorn and forgotten,” he
began to imagine the details of his new project.
“Like any crime writer, I asked myself what’s the worst thing that could
happen here,” before fixing on the new book’s entry point, the suicide of
a promising young man. He says the location is perfect for Alex’s next
adventure, “because it’s such a lonely place and there’s this big tree
overlooking the lake.”
The tree figures prominently in the story.
As he has for all his Alex McKnight novels, Hamilton resurrects other
colorful characters, chief among them Jackie Connery, owner of the
familiar Glasgow Inn in Paradise, the spot McKnight is likely to be
sipping on a cold Molson while waiting for something to happen. Jackie is
as taciturn as ever, opening the story by telling some unsuspecting
snowmobiler in a pink suit to leave and never come back when the man
tramples on the local affinity for Lake Superior.
The first major twist in the story comes when Roy Maven, another recurring
character and chief of police in Sault Ste. Marie, calls on McKnight with
the hope of enlisting the sleuth’s help. Turns out the dead boy’s father
is an old colleague of Maven’s. “Theoretically they’ve always been on the
same side, even though they knock heads sometimes,” Hamilton says of the
tension in the relationship between Maven and McKnight.
As the boy’s father struggles to make sense of the suicide, he turns to
his old buddy Maven. “It’s like the ultimate heart-breaking mystery,”
Hamilton says of the weight of the suicide. Of the questions surrounding
what drove the young man to suicide, Hamilton believes, “It’s almost an
impossible question to answer,” which necessarily becomes the novel’s
purpose.
Enlisted because he might be more likely to get the boy’s college pals to
open up, McKnight reluctantly, as always, agrees to give it a shot,
expecting to find little useful information, eventually uncovering more
than enough to unravel the details that resolve the case.

ANATOMY OF A CHARACTER
Hamilton believes Alex McKnight has evolved since the first novel in the
series, the Edgar Award winning “A Cold Day In Paradise,” published in
2000.
“He still blames himself for what happened,” Hamilton says, referring to
the shooting death of his partner when McKnight was a Detroit police
officer, a shooting that occurred 14 years earlier. “When you first meet
him, it’s been a few years since all this stuff happened in Detroit and
he’s hoping not to deal with it.”
Dealing with it is a major current in the novels. McKnight has moved north
to forget, but he can’t. Surrounded by his past, both personal and
professional, the retired cop finds he’s constantly being called upon by
new friends to help.
Though Alex McKnight took a hiatus, Hamilton did not. Still working his
day job at IBM, he also managed to keep writing, turning out stand-alone
mysteries in “Night Work,” and “The Lock Artist,” both well received by
critics and readers alike. “It’s strange to think of a fictional character
as needing a break,” he says of McKnight, “but he really did.”
Hamilton also wanted to take a break from his fictional creation. “I never
want it to get easy. You can tell when someone hasn’t burned a lot of
calories on a middle book,” he continues, explaining he didn’t want
readers to think of him this way.
He believes the experience of the stand-alone books has been helpful. “I
hope I became a much better writer having gone through it.” He feels the
break from the series was necessary. “That was all I knew, and I sort of
had this idea ‘that you need a break or you’d be stuck.’”
Having returned to the series, Hamilton has plans for even more. “I can’t
imagine ever not wanting to go back to Alex,” he says. “I’m working on the
next book, and it’s Alex. I’m sure I’ll stay with him for the next two.”
About his absence from Michigan, Hamilton says the space is helpful to his
writing about home. “If you’re in the minute details every day and you get
to look back, you might miss something.” From the distance of his New York
home, he believes, “I can look back and know what Michigan is… I know for
a fact I couldn’t have written these books if I hadn’t moved away and had
a chance to look back.”

Steve Hamilton will visit the Mackinac Island Public Library on August 26.
For more details about his books and his book tour, visit
authorstevehamilton.com.
 
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