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SMILE ON FACE OF/TIGER, A (ABR.) 2 CASS. [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Loren D. Estleman , John Kenneth
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 28 2001 Amos Walker Series (Book 14)
"I never thought I'd see her again. But never is longer than forever." She is book editor, Louise Starr, a beautiful and scheming ghost from Amos Walker's past; and she wants the Detroit private eye to find Eugene Booth, a missing paperback writer from the 1950s and ask him why he turned down his first book contract in 40 years. Eugene Booth's trail leads to a rustic motel cabin, where the crusty old pro is hammering out his first novel in decades on a battered Smith Corona with a case of bourbon for inspiration. But when the writer winds up hanging from his own belt, Walker must discover the connection between the apparent suicide, the murder of Booth's wife 40 years before - and a deadly secret as old as World War II.

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Amos Walker has a sharp eye and a sharper sense of the absurd. Pair these with a dry wit and a fondness for Scotch and you've got Detroit's answer to Philip Marlowe. Just trade the fedora for a Tigers' baseball cap. Loren Estleman's acerbically philosophical PI has been going strong for 13 novels and shows no sign of slowing down. In a funky, meta-textual noir riff, A Smile on the Face of the Tiger immerses Walker in the world of '40s and '50s American pulp fiction, where men clench lantern jaws and women (sorry, dames) wear silk stockings and cause trouble.

When a New York publisher asks Walker to track down author Eugene Booth, who's refusing to allow his classic Paradise Valley to be reissued, Walker's first instinct is to say no. But Booth's novel, about a Detroit race riot in 1943, fascinates Walker, especially after he finds Booth's dictation tapes. Booth has "a low fuzzy bass that might once have been rich and pleasant before too much whiskey, too many cigarettes, and three or more trips too many around a rundown block had hammered it into that dull monotone you hear at last call and over the loudspeaker in the eleventh inning of a pitchers' duel." Walker discovers that it's not just whiskey and cigarettes that have affected the author. His wife was murdered 50 years ago to prevent Booth from spilling the truth about the events he fictionalized.

Walker traces Booth to a rundown motel on the shores of Lake Huron. His presence there is no surprise, given his fondness for solitude and fish. But why is mobster Glad Eddie Cypress, who should be gearing up for a big book tour, holed up at the same motel? When Walker finds Booth swinging from the rafters, he decides to find out. When the number of people who wanted Booth dead starts multiplying, and a 50-year-old race riot and murder move back into the spotlight, Walker is hard-pressed to keep himself from becoming history.

Estleman's sardonic prose (the Detroit River is "the only spot on the North American continent where you could look across at a foreign country without seeing either wilderness or tattoo parlors") makes A Smile on the Face of the Tiger move energetically along. This noir veteran, never content to rest on his laurels, has produced another gritty winner. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

HThe three Shamus Awards Estleman has won for his Amos Walker mysteries (The Hours of the Virgin, etc.) testify to his reputation as the torchbearer of the classic PI yarn. In his 14th novel about the tough-minded Detroit gumshoe, Estleman pays explicit tribute to his artistic ancestors, dedicating the book to "Hamilton, Prather, McCoy, and Spillane" and others, and centering its complicated, absorbing plot around the fates of a classic paperback writer and the bombshell blonde who posed for his books' lurid covers. Walker is hired by sleek Louise Starr, owner of a nascent New York publishing house, to find Eugene Booth, author of such titles as Tough Town and Bullets Are My Business. Booth has called it quits on a contract to reprint his best-known novel, Paradise Valley, set within the horrific Detroit race riot of June 1943; Starr wants to know why. Walker locates Booth, a broken old drunk tapping at a manual typewriter, at a fishing lodge north of Motor City. They drink and they talkDabout the murder of Booth's wife way back when and about what really went down at the riot; hours later, Walker finds Booth hanged in his cabin. Suicide? Then how to explain the "heeled" guy in an adjacent cabin, who Walker soon learns is hit man-turned-bestselling author Glad Eddie Cypress? Fleta Skirrett, former paperback jacket honey, now waiting to die in an old folks' home, offers some clues, and so does the son of the painter of Booth's covers, who lives surrounded by plastic-wrapped paperbacks. A good, involving mystery featuring strong characters and prose as smooth as the brim of a fedora, this novel makes smart points about writing, publishing and the cult of mysteries. Anyone who appreciates the difference between a gat and a gun, a gam and a leg, is going to wolf it down. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Surprising Pulp Fiction That Self Examines Dec 18 2003
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio Cassette
The Amos Walker series is an outstanding one if you like your private detectives male, tough and laconic. If you like to read about Detroit, so much the better. In A Smile on the Face of the Tiger, Mr. Estleman has risen above the rest of the series by turning Amos Walker into a detective surrounded by a pulp fiction mystery in a pulp fiction book. The book reminded me very much of the classy Hoodwink by Bill Pronzini in the Nameless Detective series.
I listened to the unabridged audiocassette read by John Kenneth, and especially recommend this way of enjoying the book. The telephonic versions of voices are particularly well done, and add a lot to the realism of the story.
Louise Starr, the sexually provocative book editor from Amos's past, has started up her own title. Pulp fiction author Eugene Booth has inexplicably cancelled his contract to reprint one of his paperbacks from the 1950s, Paradise Valley. Starr hires Amos to find Booth and learn why Booth has declined. She hopes to persuade Booth to change his mind. Relying on clues from Booth's novels and leads from his last address, a trailer park near the airport, Amos soon locates Booth through his acquaintances. That shifts the scene to northern Michigan where Booth and Amos become whiskey buddies . . . until tragedy intervenes. What does it have to do with a race riot in the 1940s, a 50-plus year-old murder, and a contract killer?
It's hard to know what to praise the most in this book: the pulp references; the remarkable descriptions; the tough guy dialogue; the action; or the subtle misdirections in the plot. Each aspect is very fine. Seldom does an author totally stump me on motive, but Mr. Estleman easily ran circles around me. I enjoyed the suspense of his unraveling of the tangled skein of clues.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 15 Novels Later, Amos Walker STILL Rocks Nov. 5 2001
Format:Hardcover
Most mystery series have become either worn out or routine by the time they get around to their 15th outing. Not so Loren Estlemen's Amos Walker P.I. series. If anything, Estlemen and his hero are getting better. "A Smile of the Face of the Tiger" is the fourth Walker book since Estlemen took a seven year hiatus from his favorite shamus, and it is easily the best of the "comeback" novels. Walker remains one of the few who truly does carry on the torch of Phillip Marlowe with his lonliness, cynicism and uncorruptible nature.
This time out, he tracks a old pulp fiction writer who has disappeared after turning down an advance to reprint one of his old novels. I've seen this story line several times before, but Estlemen gets clever with it. Along the way, he weaves in his usual menacing mobster (a Sammy "the Bull" Gravano clone, no less) and corrupt police officer angles, also in a fresh and unique way. It also helps that Estlemen puts two of the series's better supporting characters, police Lieutenant Mary Ann Thaler and beguiling publisher's representative Louise Starr, to good use this time out. As always, the real hero of the story is the once great city of Detroit, still struggling to regain some of its lost luster, this time with casino gambling.
Overall, Walker is among the best private detectives in the literary world today, and this is one of his best novels to date.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent storyline July 28 2000
Format:Hardcover
New York publisher Louise Starr hires Detroit's private investigator Amos Walker to locate writer Eugene Booth, author of the half a century old classic "Paradise Valley." Louise wants the rights to reprint the novel. However, Booth has simply vanished.

While Amos goes about his missing person inquiries, he learns that former Mafia hitman turned author Glad Eddie also seeks Booth. When he finds Booth, Amos learns that the recluse plans to write a non-fictionalized account of the city's 1943 riots. The next day Booth is dead, an apparent suicide. Amos begins investigating the death of Booth and the murder of the writer's wife over fifty years ago, not yet understanding the danger he faces.

SMILE ON THE FACE OF THE TIGER, the fourteenth Amos Walker mystery novel, retains the noir feel of its predecessors. The book pays homage to the pulp fiction of the thirties and forties and to Detroit. The story line is captivating, and the who-done-it is fun but clearly this tale belongs to Amos, a fresh intriguing character who constantly take beatings. Loren D. Estleman continually shows his ability to write delightful contemporary noir.

Harriet Klausner
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