EDSEL by Loren D. Estleman


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 Following Douglas Adams, Estleman adds a fourth volume to his Detroit trilogy--this one sandwiched in time between Whiskey River (1990) and Motown (1991). His triumphs as a crime reporter long behind him by 1954, Connie Minor's trapped in dead-end advertising work when Ford exec Israel Zed plucks him from obscurity to promote Everyman's dream car, the Edsel. The high-paying, low-profile job (everything about ``the E-car'' must be shrouded in secrecy until its release) would be routine if Minor's questioning of guys on a Ford assembly line didn't convince UAW head Walter Reuther that Minor was spying on the rank-and-file and make him blackmail Minor into fingering the would-be assassin who shot Reuther and his brother, Victor, back in 1948. Minor's own hunch--that it's somebody in Frankie Orr's mob, now run by identical twins Tony and Carlo Balls (nÇ Ballista)--leads him to seek an interview with Carlo. But wrestler Anthony Battle, Minor's passport to that meeting, has his own problems: He's under heavy pressure from witch-hunting local attorney Stuart Leadbeater to name names he doesn't know. So Minor purchases his ticket to Carlo (fat lot of good it'll do him) by promising Battle to get Leadbeater off his case, and that means promising Leadbeater a bigger prize than Battle--say, somebody in legendary Albert Brock's Steelhaulers' Union who ordered the hit, or who looks like a high-profile pinko. Whatever. Trading favors is a swell way to complicate the intrigue here, and Estleman's evocation of dear, dirty Detroit is as richly reeking as ever, so long as Minor keeps cutting deals with bigger and more dangerous sharks. But the day of reckoning poses as many problems for the author as his hero: If you haven't been taking notes, you may wonder when and why it's time for the whole circus to strike its tents. Still, despite as many engineering problems as its namesake: big, brawny, and beautifully written in Estleman's best tough- sensitive manner. Page for page, nobody does this stuff better.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-89296-552-5
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


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