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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A HIT MAN MEETS HIS NEW MOTHER-IN-LAW?
Multiple Shamus Award winner Loren D. Estleman is "a superb stylist as well as a deft storyteller [who] paints his people and his city with acerbic wit and wry affection" (San Diego Union-Tribune). Peter Macklin was a hit man for a long time but he has taken steps to distance himself from his tattooed past, like quitting the mob, moving away from Detroit, and marrying the gorgeous, intelligent Laurie. But retirement isn't easy for an ex-hit man.
Now the man accustomed to killing people in cold blood must adjust to a sadistic ritual of early marriage... he must spend time with his eccentric mother-in-law. This event takes an unexpected turn when Macklin discovers mom-in-law's boyfriend Benjamin Grinnell is a spotter for a gang of armed robbers. Unfortunately, Grinnell made a big mistake: he failed to spot a shotgun-toting shop-owner, whom the gang had to turn into red mist. Now Grinnell's life is threatened, and Grinnell's jeopardy endangers his sweetie... and Laurie.
Macklin, driven by his professional curiosity and his desire to protect his family, can't help but get involved. As Macklin investigates Grinnell's dark affairs, he inevitably gets tangled up with Grinnell's enemies, including the Ohio mob... and the law. All parties converge in a deadly shootout, with the lives of Macklin's loved ones and the fate of his marriage precariously hanging in the balance.
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The value and limitations of trust--between men and women, between career lawbreakers--lie at the dark, wounded heart of Loren D. Estleman's Little Black Dress, his fifth outing (after 2002's Something Borrowed, Something Black) for now ostensibly retired Detroit hit man Peter Macklin.
Eleven months into Macklin's marriage to Laurie, a bright, breathtaking blond nurse less than half his age, the pair are visiting northern Ohio, looking to purchase her late grandparents's 80-acre farm, "where she’d spent all her summers as a girl." Planting fresh roots outside the Motor City is one more vital step along Macklin's reform path; but peace will be harder to find than he'd hoped. His domineering, vain, and resentfully divorced new mother-in-law, Pamela Ziegenthaler, is suspicious of men, in general, but especially of Peter Macklin. She doesn't swallow his cover story about being a financially secure former camera retailer. At the same time, this ex-killer is leery of Pamela's latest beau, Canadian-born Benjamin Grinnell, and with good reason: "polite and boring" Grinnell is a "case man" working for round-the-bend Toledo mobster Joe Vulpo and his cross-dressing son, "Terrible" Tommy. He reconnoiters video-rental stores, in advance of their being knocked over by a gang of younger, dissolute thieves led by wannabe gunfighter "Wild Bill" Berman. But a recent slipup has forced these crooks to find new targets--the first of which will be the chain bookstore that Macklin's mother-in-law manages. So how does Macklin protect the two new women in his life without scaring them both to death, or lying to Laurie about his intentions--something he's promised never to do again? And how does he bring down Grinnell without attracting the unwanted attentions of "Reverend" Edgar Prine, the chauvinistic but straight-arrow commander of an Ohio State Police robbery task force, committed to corralling the video-store bandits?
Estleman goes lighter on the wisecracks here than in his Shamus Award-winning Amos Walker PI series (Retro), though he finds some obvious delight in spinning out the idiosyncratic backgrounds of both criminals and lawmen. As compensation, this Detroit-area author gives his previously lonely, anti-hero protagonist a sexy, adult, and intriguing relationship with the curvilinear Laurie, one that could excite a few jealous bones even in the comfortably lone-wolf Amos. A high-caliber denouement and a staggering turning-point finale make Little Black Dress just the right fit for the season. --J. Kingston PierceAbout the Author:
Loren D. Estleman has written more than fifty novels. In his illustrious career his fiction has already netted 3 Shamus Awards, 4 Golden Spur Awards, and 3 Western Heritage Awards. He lives with his wife, author Deborah Morgan, in central Michigan.
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