A bored Amos Walker, Estleman’s long-running p.i. (Never Street, 1997, etc.) who tosses off enough one-liners to glut even the Private Eye Writers of America, is waiting for a chance to drop a wisecrack on someone, anyone. When the phone rings, it’s the longed-for someone: Stodgy lawyer Stuart Lund wants to hire Walker on behalf of a friend, the legendary architect Jay Bell Furlong, who is dying of cancer and has perhaps just two weeks left in which to right a wrong that has him on the rack. And Walker’s job is to track down a. . . witchfinder. A what? Well, during the 17th century when—in places like Salem—hunting witches was the favored form of scapegoating, you still couldn’t just hang one willy-nilly. Scintillas of proof were required. Thus, fabricating evidence amounted to a cottage industry, and witch-hunters, we’re told, subcontracted this work to witchfinders. Eight years earlier, Furlong had been sent a damning photograph—a picture of his young and beautiful fiancÇe in bed with another man. The engagement was broken, but Furlong now knows the photo was doctored—by a contemporary witchfinder. So Walker sets off on his mission, and a bumpy ride it turns out to be. But what’s a p.i. novel without bumps and bruises? And bottles and blonds? And buckets of one-liners to brighten life for the dour? A brisk, savvy number, but for the true measure of Estleman’s talent, search out his four-book Detroit crime cycle—especially the opener, Whiskey River (1990).