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Book Author: Loren D. Estleman

DON’T LOOK FOR ME by Loren D. Estleman: Book Review

Alec Wynn is a very wealthy man with a very big problem. His young wife is missing, leaving behind only a note saying “Don’t look for me. C.” Alec knows there have been problems in their marriage–the difference in their ages, her infidelities–but he doesn’t understand why she left and doesn’t want to be found. So he hires private investigator Amos Walker to find the missing Cecelia in Don’t Look For Me.

Alec tells Amos that Cecelia was a serial adulterer, the last affair being with an employee of Alec’s, Lloyd Debner. “I fired him , naturally. ….gave him excellent references,” says Alec. So Amos’ first visit is to Lloyd, who reluctantly admits that Cecelia broke off their relationship because she told him he couldn’t satisfy her sexually.

His next visit is to Cecelia’s best friend, Patti Lochner. According to Alec, “If anyone was born to cause trouble in a happy marriage, her name is Patti Lochner.” After hearing only negative comments about Cecelia’s marriage and affairs from Patti, Amos asks her why she dislikes Cecelia so much. Surprised at Amos’ question, she responds, “Cecelia? She’s my best friend.” With friends like this….

The search continues, with stops at a natural health foods/vitamin store that might be a front for something more dangerous, a studio shooting pornographic videos with Cecilia’s former maid as a performer, and a gambling casino where Amos can talk things over with his friend Barry Stackpole. Cecelia was into some dangerous stuff, or at least sniffing around the edges of some of it, but Amos isn’t really getting anywhere. And then Cecelia calls him.

This is, I believe, the twenty-third novel that features Amos Walker, Detroit’s best-known private eye. Amos hasn’t lost a bit of his quick wit, although that doesn’t go over so well with his present client. When asked how big his agency is, Amos responds, “About six-one and one-eighty….I lied about my weight.” Alec’s response–“The humor I can take or let alone.” But the snarky remarks and quick comebacks are part of the Walker persona. He’s been in the business long enough not to be cowed by his clients, no matter how wealthy or powerful they are. After all, they came to him, didn’t they?

Don’t Look For Me brings back two men who form the basis of Amos’ “family.” One is John Alderdyce, now an inspector with the Detroit Police Department, a big bear of a man with a sense of fashion. The other is Barry Stackpole, an investigative journalist wounded a few books back by the Mob, who now has a bad leg and a steel plate in his head. John and Barry might not always agree with Amos or with what he’s doing, but they always have his back.

Loren D. Estleman recently received the Eye, the lifetime achievement award given by the Private Eye Writers of America. That should come as no surprise, as Amos Walker is surely one of the best known and best loved private eyes in America.

You can read more about Loren D. Estleman at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads blog at her web site.



THE LEFT-HANDED DOLLAR by Loren D. Estleman: Book Review

It’s been three years and counting since Amos Walker traversed the mean streets of Detroit.  Welcome back.

The Left-Handed Dollar is the twentieth Walker novel.  And although Walker has aged, he doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

As the book opens, Walker is approached by famed defense attorney Lucille Lettermore–“Lefty Lucy” to the Michigan police and federal authorities for her political views.  Lucy wants Walker to find evidence to overturn the conviction of a Detroit mobster for a hit twenty years earlier; by erasing that conviction and doing some legal maneuvering, she can get the ankle bracelet off “Joey Ballistic,” re-model him as a first offender, and earn a substantial fee.

Joey B. comes from a Mafia family, has an ex-wife and two former mistresses, and a once-opulent house where nearly all the furnishings have been sold off.  He’s an old, sick man who’s still denying his role in the two-decades-old attack, a car bombing that left Walker’s close friend, Barry Stackpole, with a prosthetic leg and a hand with less than the usual number of fingers.

If he’s convicted of the minor crime he’s been arrested for now, Joey B. will go to prison for the rest of his life based on his record.  So Lucy wants Walker to prove that her client was innocent of the car bombing, thus clearing his record of that crime and allowing him to plead guilty to a lesser charge for the current crime.

Although Joey has certainly committed any number of violent crimes, he may not have been guilty of the attack on Stackpole.  Ever the bleeding heart, although he would never admit it, Walker takes the case.

As in all Loren Estleman’s books, there’s an interesting array of characters. There’s Lettermore, the foul-mouthed lawyer; Joey B.’s former wife Iona, now a successful interior designer; her partner Marcine, former model and former mistress of Iona’s ex-husband; Randolph Severin, the retired detective who investigated the original crime; and Lee Tan the younger, a physical therapist, and her aunt Lee Tan the elder, former heroin importer who worked with Joey B. years before.

In addition, Barry Stackpole and Detroit Police Inspector John Alderdyce return, the former the victim of the car bombing who is not happy that Walker is investigating the case, the latter the cop who is just an inch away from taking Walker’s P.I. license away for good.  Walker is losing friends fast, and he didn’t have that many to begin with.

It’s good to see Amos Walker again, although I do feel that the repartee between Walker and everyone else strikes a false note. It’s very arch and can be amusing, but reading page after page of it, it gets old.  “I’m riding the water wagon for a little, just to see what the Mormons are shouting about.”  “Next you’re going to tell me they’re breaking up the USSR.”  “Don’t teetotal just for me.  I left my hatchet in my other suit.”  It’s clever, but it gets a bit wearing after a while.  And not very realistic, I think.

That being said, I’m glad to see Walker again.  He’s a rare breed these days–a tough guy with a liberal interior who’s might bend the law but won’t bend his ethics.

You can read more about Loren D. Estleman at his web site.