In his 18th investigation (Retro, 2005, etc.), the last pure gumshoe standing does it mostly on one leg.
It happens on Opening Day of hunting season in Grayling, Mich. Amos Walker, undercover (woolen shirt, lace-up boots, two day’s growth), gets shot by a rancorous deadbeat and ends up in the hospital with a limp that may be permanent. Why was he so readily busted? Walker’s theory: “You don’t do what I do for as many years as I’ve done it without taking on some of the physical characteristics of a rat terrier.” But that wisdom comes after he’s stretched senseless in a parking lot, his wounded leg gushing, and he has to rely on one Jeff Starzek to deliver him to the ER even though he has a pressing reason for not taking time from his busy schedule: Homeland Security is hot on his heels. Has Starzek, so far a small-scale smuggler, escalated his operation on behalf of jihadists? Herbert Clemson of Homeland Security says yes. Starzek’s sister Rose says no, and pleads with Walker to find her vanished brother. Walker sides with Rose. For one thing, she’s pretty. For another, it goes against the Walker grain to trust “those federal types, who lie to their parakeets just to keep in practice.”
No surprises, of course—a tradition is a tradition—but few among the Private Eye Writers of America can do it better.