Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton is his debut novel starring
Army Ranger Van Shaw. It is a book about family and forgiveness,
and how circumstances can affect the interaction between people
as they embrace and reject their past. Within that story is
an action-packed plot that looks at the different aspects
Donovan, “Dono,” Shaw, Van’s estranged grandfather,
raised him to become a thief, following in his footsteps.
Having had enough of the criminal world, Van exiled himself,
abandoning his illicit past, by joining the army. Van, an
Army Ranger returns home to Seattle after ten years in response
to a terse message from his grandfather. After arriving home
he discovers Dono was shot and left for dead. Van becomes
the prime suspect and is drawn back into the criminal underworld
of his youth as he hunts for the shooter with the help of
his grandfather’s peers.
The author gives a shout out to those in the military. Van
enjoys being a Ranger because it has given him a sense of
duty. He was injured in Iraq when his unit was ambushed. He
received his facial “tribal marks” from pieces
of shrapnel that took off part of his cheekbone. After recovering
he knew he had to “get back on the horse” and
was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Being a warrior has
given Van a different perspective on life.
Hamilton commented, “ A good friend of mine was in the
Special Forces. To fact check information in the book, I spoke
to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. I wanted to make sure that
Van’s formidable years were spent as a warrior since
he entered the army at age eighteen. The reason I made Van
a Ranger is that they are all about knocking down doors and
Readers instantly like Van for being loyal, tough-minded,
and independent, traits inherited from his grandfather. Actually
all the protagonists in this story have very similar traits.
The main female character, Luce, also has these qualities.
Hamilton explores how each of the three main characters deal
with the issue of crime. Dono has a contentious relationship
with Van because of Van’s desire to escape his criminal
youth, removing himself from the temptation. While Luce, whose
grandfather was Dono’s partner, responded to her criminal
surroundings by staying in Seattle to confront it head on
through embracing the straight and narrow.
The author noted, “ Van has matured during the years
he’s been in the Army. He may not completely forgive
or even understand his grandfather, but he also knows that
he’s not blameless himself. The two men are much more
alike than either of them realize, in their faults and their
loyalties. Van had completely bought in to the criminal life
as a teenager. When he left it, he left everything from his
youth along with it.Yet, Van knows family is important to
Dono as he raised him from the age of six. Van and his grandfather
have a complicated relationship where they love each other
but it was hardly ever expressed in words.”
Past Crimes is edgy and suspenseful. It will be interesting
to see what Hamilton has in store for the main characters
as the series moves along. If this first novel is any indication
Van and company will be pitted into action-packed emotional
storylines with many twists and turns.
In the next book Hamilton hopes to explore how Van will establish
himself in the civilian world, using the skills he learned
as a Ranger. He will also continue the relationship
with Luce while he struggles to bring justice to those he
knew from his past.