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Every Day Above Ground: A Van Shaw Novel

Review

Every Day Above Ground: A Van Shaw Novel

Glen Erik Hamilton nudged his way onto my “must read” list on the strength of PAST CRIMES, which introduced Van Shaw, his damaged but capable protagonist, to the world, and HARD COLD WINTER, its more than worthy successor. His newly published EVERY DAY ABOVE GROUND, the third in the series, is indeed the charm. It is Hamilton’s most ambitious work to date, beginning with a simple concept that becomes increasingly complex, all the while keeping the reader firmly entrenched in the story.

EVERY DAY ABOVE GROUND (I love the title) begins with Shaw being visited by Mickey O’Hasson, an old acquaintance of Dono, Shaw’s deceased grandfather. Mickey is walking good news and bad news: he is newly released from a stretch in prison but has a terminal cancer diagnosis to go with it. He was hoping to reunite with Dono for one more big score, one that was generated by his cellmate, who is on the short end of a stretch himself and is due to be released from prison as well. Shaw has his grandfather’s criminalistic skill set --- he is a master lock picker and safe cracker --- along with the defensive skills he acquired as an Army Ranger. He is reluctant to substitute for his late grandfather for any number of reasons, even though he is need of cash to complete the rebuilding of Dono’s home in Seattle.

"EVERY DAY ABOVE GROUND, the third in the series, is indeed the charm. It is Hamilton’s most ambitious work to date, beginning with a simple concept that becomes increasingly complex, all the while keeping the reader firmly entrenched in the story."

But Shaw changes his mind when he learns that Mickey has a preteen daughter who could use the money. The job is hard to resist, given the payoff. It involves cracking a safe left in an office in a deserted building. The safe contains in the neighborhood of four million dollars worth of gold kilobars, and it seems like an easy enough proposition. Naturally, it is not. The gold is there, but so is a trap that has been set by some very angry and revenge-minded unknowns. The attempted burglary is a disaster in every conceivable way, to the extent that by the time the dust settles and the smoke clears, the building is burned to the ground, Mickey and the gold are in the hands of the bad guys, and Shaw is fortunate to have escaped with his life.

Things become more complicated when Cyndra, Mickey’s daughter, shows up in Seattle looking for her father. Her arrival brings a third group of people into play, seeking both money and revenge for actions occurring decades before. Shaw would like to retrieve the gold and Mickey, and keep Cyndra safe as well. He enlists some folks to assist him in meeting all three goals, with mixed results. The people wanting the gold aren’t playing, and the sides keep shifting. Shaw finds himself in the position of having to make a deal with the devil...but which devil, if any, can he trust? That is the question that remains to be answered, but Shaw and his allies may not make it to the end of the book to find out.

The narrative is interspersed with an account of an incident that took place when Shaw was 12 years old, giving the reader some backstory as to who the man is and where he comes from. It also provides a glimpse into Dono’s life, which is helpful, given that the dead man is a constant and influential, if silent, presence throughout the book. I, for one, look forward to more revelations about Shaw and Dono in future installments.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 4, 2017

Every Day Above Ground: A Van Shaw Novel
by Glen Erik Hamilton

  • Publication Date: July 25, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062567381
  • ISBN-13: 9780062567383