The case Connor Thorpe lobs wisecracking Detroit shamus Amos Walker (The Witchfinder, 1998, etc.) looks so easy it’s hard to understand why Thorpe’s spent the last five years ignoring it: Find the illegitimate offspring of automotive tycoon Leland Stutch so his generous young widow can cut them in on her $13 million annual windfall. No sooner has he downed his Scotch, fantasized about Rayellen Stutch’s blue-black hair mussing up a pillow, and been shown out the door by her confidante Mrs. Campbell, the estate housekeeper with the prison-matron personality, than Walker’s located Stutch’s daughter Carla, tracked Carla’s daughter Constance and grandson Matthew to an abused-women’s shelter run by his old flame Iris, and left Constance’s husband David Glendenning in his pigsty of a house, contemplating 12-step redemption. Mission accomplished—until a white Dodge Ram rams Walker’s car, decapitating Iris in the front seat, sending Constance into a coma, and sidelining Walker for the length of time it takes to kidnap young Matthew. When Walker revives, it’s time for a kneecap-busting confrontation with busted copper Mark Proust, a quick once-over at David’s corpse, a meeting with union honcho Ray Montana, an assault on Stutch’s old automotive plant with Thorpe lurking in the basement, Matthew’s rescue—and then another go-round with the prison-matron type just to make sure.
The plot’s as hard to like as an Edsel, and Walker’s recovery time is even slower than his retorts, but nobody does Detroit better than Estleman.