Estleman composes still another hymn to Detroit, with Amos Walker soloing for the 21st time (The Left-handed Dollar, 2010, etc.).
Detroit PD Sergeant Mansanard is that rarest of rare birds, a cop who likes Amos Walker. Likes him well enough to recommend him to a certain R. Crossgrain, whose retro-looking business card promises: “Everything you require for the Modern Regressive Lifestyle.” Even someone as astute as Walker, arguably Detroit’s most literate P.I., has trouble translating that from gnomic to English, but he gets the gist. Crossgrain markets to the technologically challenged. Driven by the obligatory cash-flow problems, Walker pockets the card and calls on Crossgrain, who explains that a recent break-in has left him suddenly short 50 television converter boxes. What matters most about these boxes, it turns out, is they’re hollow, a design feature eminently useful to career smugglers. In due time, it becomes clear to Walker that along with the converter boxes, a substantial amount of high-grade heroin is also missing. The bad guys who once owned it want it back, and they propose to fill body bags with obstructionists. Though Walker would prefer not to be numbered among these, he puts his own attitude succinctly: “Whenever I’m faced with a problem, I identify it, analyze it, and make it bigger.”
Formulaic, to be sure, but steadfast marchers in Walker’s army are not likely to complain.