After the death of centenarian Leland Stutch, creator of an automobile dynasty, his young widow hires Amos Walker to find Leland's mistresses and illegitimate children in order to share the wealth, but Walker's investigation has unexpected repercussions.
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More than two decades after his introduction in Motor City Blue, Amos Walker is still the same cynical, computer-illiterate, lone-wolf Detroit private eye he always was. He hasn't even bothered to update his hard-boiled patter. "I got out of the robe and into the shower," Walker explains partway through Sinister Heights, "scraped off the Cro-Magnon growth of the night, put on a fresh suit from the cleaners, and drove to the office, where I sat around making a good impression on the walls until the telephone rang at ten."
However, it's the pairing of unreconstructed gumshoe with modern malevolence that makes Loren Estleman's stories interesting. In Sinister Heights, Walker is hired by the fetching young widow of powerful auto maker Leland Stutch. She wants him to locate her hubby's illegitimate offspring so she can share with them her inheritance--and thereby avoid future lawsuits. But the would-be heirs have troubles beyond the monetary. Stutch's granddaughter is on the run from an abusive spouse, and Walker's efforts to help her only lead to her son's kidnapping, the violent death of one of the PI's oldest women friends, a cinematic assault (by 18-wheeler trucks) on a suburban car factory, and a surprise Stutch progeny who hopes to capture all of the late magnate's millions.
Estleman's cops and politicians are caricatures, and he doesn't give his protagonist much emotional complexity (though Walker does bare a bit of beating heart in this book's fine closing sequence). But he makes up for these faults with his polished plot, a talent for fleshing out characters with a minimum of words, and a robust nostalgia for Detroit's heyday that almost makes you think fondly of belching smokestacks. --J. Kingston PierceAbout the Author:
Estleman has received numerous awards, including the Private Eye Writers of America's Shamus Award and the American Mystery Award for Best P.I. Novel. Loren D. Estleman lives in Whitmore Lake, Michigan.
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