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American Detective: An Amos Walker Novel [Mass Market Paperback]

Loren D. Estleman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Dec 2 2008 Amos Walker Mysteries (Book 19)
Ex-Detroit Tigers pitcher Darius Fuller wants Amos Walker to break off his daughter's engagement to Hilary Bairn, a man he believes is after her two million dollar trust fund. But then Fuller's daughter is found dead in Bairn's apartment, and what seems like a simple case of greed and murder soon uncovers a twisted web of corruption.

Walker discovers that Bairn had made many enemies before he disappeared, and continuing his investigation puts Walker on the wrong side of all of them. On the run from crooked cops and vile gangsters, and at every turn farther from the truth than when he started, this case will take all of Walker’s cunning to survive and will prove to be his greatest trial ever!

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The 19th Amos Walker mystery (after 2006's Nicotine Kiss) confirms that Estleman's long-running contemporary hard-boiled hero deserves a place in the genre pantheon with such better-known figures as Raymond Chandler's classic gumshoe, Philip Marlowe, and Robert Parker's Boston PI, Spenser. Walker is hired by Darius Fuller, a legendary retired Detroit Tigers pitcher facing substantial financial pressure from the IRS. Fuller's daughter Deirdre is several weeks away from gaining access to her $2 million trust fund, and her father fears that her sleazy boyfriend, Hilary Bairn, is wooing her just to get her money. Before Walker can fulfill his assignment to attempt to bribe Bairn to back off, Deirdre is found dead in Bairn's apartment, a death that may be connected to a smuggling ring and a local gangster. Estleman's prose is as gritty and compelling as ever as he lets fly razor-sharp dialogue, brings the Motor City to life and combines a whodunit plot with traditional noir action. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Retired Tiger pitcher Darius Fuller was once the toast of Detroit. Three divorces and a couple of bad investments have left the former star with creditors nipping at his heels, but he had enough foresight to set up a $2 million trust fund for his daughter, Deidre. Now Deidre is about to marry Hilary Bairn, a shadowy figure on the fringe of Detroit's criminal subculture. Suspecting that the groom-to-be is interested mainly in the trust fund, Darius hires private investigator Amos Walker to present Bairn with a cash payoff as an inducement to back away from Deidre. When Walker shows up for a meet at Bairn's apartment, he is met by both the police and Deidre's cold body. Walker and the police embark on a race to find Bairn. Walker's search is complicated by the necessity of eluding crooked cops and organized crime, and both have motives for finding Bairn first. Estleman collects genre awards--four Shamus, five Golden Spurs, and three Western Heritage Awards among them--like Barry Bonds piles up homers. The nineteenth Walker case is among his best. The world-weary, cynical, first-person narration is perfect, and the plotting is tighter than a snare drum. The resolution is as twisted and painful as one would expect when an American detective looks deep into the heart of a shattered American dream. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Noir Detection July 26 2007
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
American Detective isn't for those who like to look on the sunny side of the street. Instead, this dark and troubling book digs deep into the stinking garbage piles that ordinary people and villains have made out of their lives. It's a cautionary tale of how deeply evil clutches at each of us.

We all know about sports heroes . . . or do we? While they are on top, we read about the accomplishments, the records, and the contracts they sign. But no one is a sports hero forever. What's it like after that? American Detective gives us a poignant profile of one such fictional character, Darius Fuller who hadn't been such a good family man, at age sixty while his home's contents are auctioned off to pay back taxes to the IRS.

While his goods disappear, Fuller's heart is aching for his daughter, Deirdre (Dee-dee), who seems determined to marry Hilary Bairn. Dee-dee is about to come into over two million dollars from a trust fund, and Darius fears that Hilary is all about the money. Fuller hires Amos Walker to pay $50,000 he's hidden from the IRS if Bairn will disappear without marrying Dee-dee. Tapped out, Fuller gives Walker a World Series ring as collateral against Walker's fee.

Walker soon discovers that something is not right. Bairn gives Dee-dee a watch to pawn . . . and the pawn shop refuses the watch because it's hot. An unauthorized visit to Bairn's apartment yields a chilling clue tying Bairn to one of the most successful criminals in the area. Tracking down that lead makes it clear that Bairn has bigger money problems than Fuller does.

But Walker never gets to make his offer. A call to Bairn's apartment elicits an invitation to come over, but Walker finds the cops and a corpse rather than Bairn.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Noir Detection July 26 2007
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
American Detective isn't for those who like to look on the sunny side of the street. Instead, this dark and troubling book digs deep into the stinking garbage piles that ordinary people and villains have made out of their lives. It's a cautionary tale of how deeply evil clutches at each of us.

We all know about sports heroes . . . or do we? While they are on top, we read about the accomplishments, the records, and the contracts they sign. But no one is a sports hero forever. What's it like after that? American Detective gives us a poignant profile of one such fictional character, Darius Fuller who hadn't been such a good family man, at age sixty while his home's contents are auctioned off to pay back taxes to the IRS.

While his goods disappear, Fuller's heart is aching for his daughter, Deirdre (Dee-dee), who seems determined to marry Hilary Bairn. Dee-dee is about to come into over two million dollars from a trust fund, and Darius fears that Hilary is all about the money. Fuller hires Amos Walker to pay $50,000 he's hidden from the IRS if Bairn will disappear without marrying Dee-dee. Tapped out, Fuller gives Walker a World Series ring as collateral against Walker's fee.

Walker soon discovers that something is not right. Bairn gives Dee-dee a watch to pawn . . . and the pawn shop refuses the watch because it's hot. An unauthorized visit to Bairn's apartment yields a chilling clue tying Bairn to one of the most successful criminals in the area. Tracking down that lead makes it clear that Bairn has bigger money problems than Fuller does.

But Walker never gets to make his offer. A call to Bairn's apartment elicits an invitation to come over, but Walker finds the cops and a corpse rather than Bairn. Soon Walker is trying to keep his business with Fuller private while protecting the $50,000 for Fuller.

In classic detection style, Walker decides to become his own client after telling Fuller what had happened. Something is going on that needs to be stopped. From there, Walker meets some of the scummiest characters that you can imagine and gradually uncovers a decidedly evil empire.

In homage to Charlie Chan, the story reverses roles with the American detective tracking down a Korean-American's crimes. The title reference comes in a sequence between Walker and a beautiful Asian woman who tells Walker that he looks just like he stopped off the cover of American Detective, a reference to the pulp fiction era and its fictional detectives.

The plot is deliciously spiced with unexpected twists and turns. The villains are ones you'll be glad to hate. If you find a weakness in this story, it will probably be that there aren't enough innocents to identify with. Walker and justice are the center of this story. If you don't like either one, skip American Detective. If you like right versus wrong stories, you'll like this one.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amos Walker Stands Tall Nov. 29 2009
By Mel Odom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Loren Estlemen is one of those writers that I habitually pick up, spend time with, and know I'm going to get a solid story. He writes private eye yarns and Westerns, two genres that I always lean toward when I want comfort reading.

American Detective is the latest novel in the long-running Amos Walker series. Estleman writes Detroit, Michigan, like no one else, and Walker is a thoroughly believable blue collar private investigator of the old school. He's loyal and tough, and generally gets through a case based more on his indefatigable stubbornness rather than uncanny intellect or charm.

In American Detective, Walker is hired by ex-baseball pitcher Darius Fuller to break up the engagement between his daughter Deirdre and Hilary Bairn, a guy Fuller believes is after her two million dollar inheritance. It's not the kind of work Walker generally does, he's more of a bodyguard than a legbreaker, but he likes Fuller and agrees to lean on Bairn. Estleman does a really good job of building in Walker's motivation to take the case, one old warrior doing a good turn by another old warrior.

But the case takes some bad turns when Walker confirms that Bairn is bad news. As it turns out, Bairn has his finger in a lot of illegal pies, and he's doublecrossing some of the people he's in business with.

As usual, things get sticky quick for Walker and it isn't long before his small, cramped office and house end up filled with bad guys and cops wanting answers Walker would rather not give. The cops threaten indictment and the bad guys threaten physical damage. I really liked the dialogue between Walker and Elron, a hardcase in the employee of a known racketeer whose path crosses that of Walker.

Even more, I enjoyed the few scenes with the Asian madam in charge of a criminal empire. I would have loved to have seen more of her and her femme fatale Violet and hope that they make a return engagement at some time in the near future.

Walker's investigation takes a lot of twists and turns this time around. I was fascinated by the amount of criminal activities as well as the variations of them. The bit about the money machine as a way to collect bank information was awesome, and I haven't ever heard of that scheme before.

As usual, Estleman's first-person voice is great. Walker sounds like someone you know, not just a character on a page. I empathize with him a lot because he chooses to deal with life on his own two feet and accept the consequences. Also, he stays true to the people he makes deals with. Honesty and integrity are two of the best qualities you can find in a person, and Walker carries the scars of those burdens.

If you like the Robert B. Parker Spenser series but haven't tried Estleman, I urge you to. I love the Spenser novels, but Spenser always seems to find the right answer in the middle of being macho enough to handle everything. But I enjoy Estleman's take on blue collar sleuthing equally.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting characters, good story Jan. 6 2009
By Judith Lautner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Hard-boiled private detective Amos Walker of Detroit takes on a seemingly simple case: pay the suitor of an heir to walk away. The case quickly goes wrong, however, and Walker instead finds himself working for himself.

In his quest he comes across a former baseball hero, a suspicious land owner, a mob-style union organizer, and several other unsavory, interesting, and less-than-savory characters. The threads to the mystery seem to keep diverging and Walker can't just walk away. He has to tie them together, even if it means his life.

Walker doesn't believe there is much to his life anyway. His closest friend is a police detective with whom he trades unkind barbs and who has taken away his illegal gun more than once. He has no love life, no close family, not even a cat. What he does have is his skill and determination. That, along with his skill with words, is what keeps the story moving.

The dialogue at times is priceless. In fact, it was the rapid-fire verbal intercourse that held me most. The story hangs together well. The escapades are unbelievable, but we want to believe anyway.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Strikes, Yer Out Nov. 17 2007
By Ted Feit - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is the 19th Amos Walker but the first in the series this reviewer has read. Walker comes from a long line of hard-boiled wise-cracking PIs. He makes his home in Detroit, whose slippage from the heights of the auto industry heyday provides substantial background and commentary.

Walker is asked by Darius Fuller, who pitched a no-hitter for the Detroit Tigers at a much younger age than his present 60 years, to undertake convincing his daughter's intended, one Hilary Bairn, to "go away." Toward that end, the ex-pitcher gives him $50,000 to bribe the man. However, Walker discovers Hilary is in debt to gambling and gangster elements. Then, the daughter is found dead in the boyfriend's apartment of a head blow. The gentleman in question is nowhere to be found. Who's responsible for the death?

The novel is fast-paced, and Walker, typical of the genre, takes severe punishment along the way. Some of the baseball dialogue is quite amusing, and the author has a way with words. The plot moves to a crescendo, and a completely unexpected finale.
4.0 out of 5 stars Yeah, I'm an Amos junky Jan. 1 2013
By Dynomoose - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you like we'll written hard-boiled detectives, Amos Walker is your man. Detroit is the perfect backdrop as well. A hard boiled city for the hardboiled detective.
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