Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Detroit P.I. Amos Walker Is on the Job Again

Amos Walker is one of the last old-school private eyes--a tough guy with a cruddy office in a dilapidated old building, and the ever-reliable bottle in the desk drawer. In the tradition of the genre, Walker take a licking and keep on ticking, which is increasingly remarkable, given his advancing age and the fact that this is his twenty-second misadventure.

Walker's beat is Detroit, a city about as run down and beaten up as Walker himself, and one of the pleasures of reading this series through the years has been Estleman's brilliant portrayal of the city and all of its problems.

As this book opens, a friend tells Walker that the friend's son's teenage brother-in-law is being recruited by a local gang and is in danger of getting caught up in the warfare between this gang and another. The friend would like Walker to extricate the kid from the situation.

This will be easier said than done. The kid will prove hard to find and the journey takes Walker deep into Detroit's Mexicantown, where most of the major players have agendas of their own, some of them hidden and some not. Inevitably, of course, the first dead body will fall, followed by the next. In addition to several killings, Walker has to negotiate his way through arson, the drug business, cockfighting and a host of other problems, and before it's all over he may well be in serious trouble himself.

I enjoyed this book, but it's not among my favorite of the series. After twenty-one previous books, the reader certainly understands that Walker knows his city like the back of his hand. But the way in which a middle-aged white guy is suddenly able to move so easily through the Mexican community here stretched credulity a bit, at least for me, especially because I don't remember Walker demonstrating even the hint of such a facility in any of the earlier novels. Of course, that may simply be a failure of memory on my part, but I did keep wondering how Walker knew so many of the key players and why so many of them seemed indebted to him. Still, it's nice to see Walker back in action, and I'll certainly look forward to the twenty-third Amos Walker novel.

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