Retro (The Amos Walker Series #18)

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9780765304483: Retro (The Amos Walker Series #18)

Loren Estleman is the quintessential noir detective writer, and Amos Walker is his quintessential noir detective. Walker has made a lot of friends--and a few enemies--in his years as a detective in Detroit, but he has never had to deal with quite the trouble he finds when he agrees to grant the death-bed wish of Beryl Garnet. Beryl was a madam, but she had a son a long while ago, and asks Walker to make sure that her son gets her ashes when she's gone.

He finds her son, who has been in Canada since the 1960s, evading the law since he was a Vietnam War protester. A simple favor, melancholy, but benign. Except that before he can get settled back in Detroit Garnet's son is dead, with him as the prime suspect.

He has little choice but to find out who might have done the deed and tried to pin the blame on him. . . and in the process he discovers another murder, of a boxer from the 1940s, Curtis Smallwood, who happens to have been the man's father. If that wasn't bad enough, his task is made much more complicated by the fact that the two murders, fifty-three years apart, were committed with the very same gun. And in a place where it was impossible for a gun to be.

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Review:

"Have you noticed how often the word 'retro' occurs in today's advertising?" a white-shoe lawyer muses in Loren D. Estleman's Retro. "It's used to sell everything from ballpoint pens to wings of hospitals. These days, backward is the new forward." Which clues you in right away to the plot orientation of this short-fused 17th novel (after Poison Blonde) featuring Detroit private eye Amos Walker, a character who's always been nostalgic for the era of mobsters and molls and dialogue gritty enough to chip teeth.

Estleman here reaches all the way back to his first Walker book, 1980's Motor City Blue, in order to resurrect Beryl Garnet, a once-prominent whorehouse operator with a laugh "like Tinkerbell on crank," now in residence at an assisted-living facility. She hires the detective to find her not-too-bright adopted son, Delwayne, and make sure that he's given her ashes after she dies. Trouble is, Delwayne has been on the lam ever since his association with a 1968 plot to blow up the Detroit Federal Building in protest against the Vietnam War. Months later, and with the assistance of a vintage FBI agent and a politely proficient Canadian PI, Walker pins down his quarry in Toronto and hands over the late madam's "cremains." But Delwayne isn't satisfied; he wants our hero's help in solving the 1949 shooting death of his unacknowledged father, Curtis Smallwood, a black heavyweight boxing champ whose affair with a white Hollywood s! tarlet threatened her career. When, soon after this, Delwayne is murdered in a supposedly secure Detroit airport hotel--with the same .38 revolver that killed his father more than five decades before--Walker goes digging for answers. Along the way, he unearths a New York gangster's grandson, a mother with a record-setting case of hate, an overeducated mistress with leaving on her mind, and an electronic bug in his office that takes all the fun out of talking to himself.

Nobody these days outperforms the three-time Shamus-winning Estleman when it comes to penning wisecracking repartee--a reminder of the American detective story's deep roots in pulp fiction. ("Are you afraid of the police?" a would-be client asks, to which Walker responds: "Terrified. They’re armed and they drink a lot of coffee.") Yet, while the Amos Walker series upholds many genre traditions, it has also grown beyond them, both as a result of the author's finely honed prose and Walker's willingness to recognize himself as an anachronism. A melancholy appreciation of the Motor City's often unsavory history just adds to the attractions of Estleman's work. --J. Kingston Pierce

About the Author:

Loren D. Estleman was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a BA degree in English Literature and Journalism in 1974. In 2002, the university awarded him an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters for his contribution to American literature.

He is the author of more than fifty novels in the categories of mystery, historical western, and mainstream, and has received four Western Writers of American Golden Spur Awards, three Western Heritage Awards, and three Shamus Awards. He has been nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award, Britain's Silver Dagger, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2003, the mammoth Encyclopedia of Detective Fiction named him the most critically acclaimed writer of U.S. detective

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Estleman, Loren D.
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Book Description Forge, New York, New York, U.S.A., 2004. Soft cover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. RARE Advance uncorrected proof. 1st Edition. 1st Printing. New copy never read. Trade paperback. Cover has a small crinkle on the bottom of the binding. 4 bumps on the front cover from the binding process. Small mark on the outer edge of the pages 3/8". Bookseller Inventory # 000293

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