SUGARTOWN by Loren D. Estleman


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Narrator-sleuth Amos Walker gets two different cases this time--both involving Slavic ÉmigrÉs in Detroit--and, as you might guess, the cases turn out to be connected, with some neat convolutions along the way. Case #1: elderly Polish immigrant Martha Evancek hires Walker to find her long-lost grandson Michael, out-of-touch for 20 years--ever since the murder/suicide tragedy that killed his father, mother, and sister. Case #2: a comely book-editor hires Walker to protect Soviet-dissident ÉmigrÉ writer Alanov--who, along with his young translator, seems to be in danger from a local KGB agent. What's the link between the cases? Might it have something to do with a priceless silver cross that belonged to the Evancek family but disappeared after that family massacre? Yes, it might--but before Walker figures out all the hookups, he stumbles onto the corpse of a fence, is roughed up by a Fu Manchu-ish villain, and falls in love with Mrs. Evancek's sexy nurse. . . only to lose her because of his fear of commitment. Throughout, in fact, the only serious weakness here is tough-guy Walker himself: an overgrown adolescent who has become excessively smug and cutesy in his hardboiled, smart-aleck repartee. Otherwise, however, Estleman's series continues to improve--with a nicely intricate plot (his best story yet) and the steady appeal of specific Detroit-neighborhood atmospheres.

Pub Date: Dec. 31st, 1984
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin