Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: PAST CRIMES by Glen Erik Hamilton

PAST CRIMES by Glen Erik Hamilton (William Morrow, 2015)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Sometimes, new authors just grab you as a reader, making it clear that there's something special in their writing. Something you'll want to follow book after book, if they can keep up the quality in a long-running series (easier said than done). If they do though, you'll dash out to grab their books as soon as they hit booksellers shelves.

I've had that happen several times in the past decade, with the likes of John Burdett, Paul Cleave, Vanda Symon, Jack Kerley, Stuart MacBride, John Hart, Timothy Hallinan and several others adding themselves to a list stocked with old favourites like Michael Connelly and James Lee Burke. After reading all of those authors for the first time, I promptly bought or borrowed several of their books and devoured them.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reading another debut novel that stirred similar feelings. In PAST CRIMES, Seattle's Glen Erik Hamilton crafts an excellent page-turner which intrigues as much through his characters as the gripping plotlines. Which are plenty gripping.

Van Shaw, a wounded Army Ranger who grew up as a childhood thief, appeals as a multi-layered protagonist with the potential to be the spine of an ongoing series. In this first book, he finds himself back in his hometown of Seattle after a decade away, visiting his estranged grandfather following a cryptic message, only to find the old man - who'd raised him in a non-orthodox way - shot, bloodied and dying on the floor.

Returning home, Shaw must navigate a minefield of police, his military masters, past associates, and an unknown killer as he seeks to find the truth before his Army leave is over.

Hamilton writes with remarkable assuredness for a debutant, balancing action, storyline, intrigue, character, and setting in a way reminiscent of the best crime writers out there. PAST CRIMES has all the hallmarks of a page-whirring thriller, balanced with depth of character for those who prefer their crime and thrills of a more substantive nature. From our hero Van to a plethora of intriguing characters who eschew caricature, there is plenty going on, as Hamilton bounces as back and forth in time as we hurtle to the conclusion.

In the end, with a debut author, the biggest question is 'would I read more of this writer'? In the case of Glen Erik Hamilton and PAST CRIMES, my answer would be: "in a heartbeat". Looking forward to Book #2.

I was provided with a Net Galley ebook copy of PAST CRIMES in exchange for an honest review. 
This book will be my 'Washington State' book for the USA Fiction Challenge. 

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