Sunday, August 6, 2017

Detroit P.I. Amos Walker Returns for the Twenty-Third Time

This is the twenty-third entry in Loren Estleman's series featuring Detroit P.I., Amos Walker. Walker is an old-school detective and this is an old-school, hard-boiled series in the best sense of the tradition. Walker is a direct descendant of Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, and the Detroit streets that he drives in his souped-up Oldsmobile Cutlass are at least as mean as the ones in L.A. that were once walked by his erstwhile predecessors.

As the book opens, Walker is hired by a wealthy financier to find his much-younger wife who has left him for the second time. The wife, Cecelia Wynn, has left a note that is short and to the point: "Don't look for me." Walker agrees to do so in spite of the note, and ascertains fairly quickly that the missing spouse was unhappy and masking her despondency with shopping, lunches with her girlfriends, drinking heavily, and taking herbal remedies.

On leaving, Cecelia seems to have left behind her stash of supplements and so Walker begins by visiting the shop where she got them. There's a very interesting woman behind the counter and a dead body in the basement, and from here things get both very interesting and extremely confusing. Drug runners, porn stars, the Mafia and a couple of foreign agents all make an appearance while poor Amos attempts to somehow stay alive, stay out of jail and complete his mission.

Thirty-four years after his initial appearance in Motor City Blue, Amos is more than a little world-weary, and who can blame the poor guy? He's had to endure a great deal through the years, investigating any number of dangerous and complex cases, getting beat up, jailed, and otherwise abused, and all the while holding up the traditions of one of the most sacred sub-genres in the crime fiction business. It's a nasty job, but crime fiction fans can be grateful for the fact that Amos and his creator are still on the job and at the top of their games all these years down the road.

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