Truth in labeling commendation: an Author’s Note identifies this 25th full-length case for Detroit shamus Amos Walker (You Know Who Killed Me, 2014, etc.) as an expansion of Attitude, a 2004 novella first serialized in the Ann Arbor News.
Naturally, the case brings Walker to Ann Arbor, where two specimens of Homo Arboritis hire him to find a missing man and the $15,000 they gave him. Jerry Marcus showed such promise as a digital filmmaker that Heloise Gunnar and her husband, Dante, were more than willing to invest in his latest project, Mr. Alien Elect. Dante doesn’t say much; Heloise, every inch the bleeding-heart liberal, insists that Walker leave his gun at home. The point turns out to be moot, because when Walker catches up with Jerry, he’s stuffed into his ironing-board cupboard, all possible threats neutralized by a bullet in his head. Or are they? An obliging witness, baldheaded University of Michigan undergraduate Holly Zacharias, maintains that Jerry loaded a box into his Mustang and drove it away right around the time he was supposed to be getting shot. When the Mustang turns up on a country road, just as dead as the corpse, Lt. Alexander Karyl of the Ann Arbor police wastes no time in arresting Dante for Jerry’s murder. But Walker can’t help wondering if Jerry is really dead—or if he’s gone into hiding after leaving behind somebody else’s corpse somehow salted with his own DNA. A visit to Jerry’s ex-partner, Alec Moselle, a guerrilla photographer of urban nudes, fans the flames of Walker’s suspicions and considerably raises the stakes of his concerns.
Since the expansion of his earlier novella doesn’t require new plotting or character development, Estleman puts his energy into wisecracks (“If he weren’t my only friend I wouldn’t like him at all”) and fulminations against motel rooms. Fans won’t mind a bit.