Review: Van Shaw receives a cryptic message from Dono, his estranged grandfather, "Come home, if you can." Serving in Afghanistan, he takes a week's leave to return to Seattle, only to find his grandfather dying on the floor of his childhood home, a gunshot wound to his head, in Past Crimes, the first mystery in this series by Glen Erik Hamilton.
Van hadn't spoken to or heard from Dono in years. Before Van left, Dono trained him in all manner of criminal activities — disabling alarms, breaking into safes, hot-wiring cars, and the like — and was presumably still involved in such, but nothing so serious that it would lead to someone trying to kill him. And why, after so many years, did he reach out to Van? Unwilling to let Dono's death remain unsolved, Van begins at the old man's bar, where his life-long friends share with Van what they know. And it isn't too long before Van discovers that maybe Dono had been involved in something more serious: $3 million worth of low-grade diamonds has gone missing.
Past Crimes is a superior murder mystery, crisply written, steeped in atmosphere and rich in detail. Narrated from Van's perspective in the present, there are a half-dozen or so chapters from the past interspersed, which provide a backstory, from Van's boyhood antics to his training and apprenticeship to Dono, and finally to their falling out. The plot unfolds in a measured way, steadily revealing how Dono came to be involved with the diamond heist, who the other players were, and how they may have been responsible for his death. The denouement comes at a wake for Dono, and it is as tense as it is surprising. A first-rate crime novel from first page to last, this is one of the year's best books.
Acknowledgment: HarperCollins provided a copy of Past Crimes for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Hard Cold Winter
William Morrow (Hardcover), March 2016
ISBN-13: 9780062344588; ISBN-10: 0062344587
Location(s) referenced in Past Crimes: Seattle, Washington
— ♦ —
Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton — A Van Shaw Mystery
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: March 2015
List Price: $26.99
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites