Burning Midnight (Amos Walker) by Loren D. Estleman

This is the twenty-second Amos Walker novel, plus a collection of short stories, and I’m proud to say I’ve read all of them – since the early 90s. I prefer my mysteries hard-boiled like Chandler and Hammett wrote, and I don’t know any contemporary author who does it like Estleman. The mysteries are always well-plotted, character- as well as action-driven. There is always some line or situation that make me laugh; Amos Walker is so droll. He has the same dry sense of humor I’m told I have; I wish he and I could sit down for a beer at a blind pig. Inevitably he gets beat up; but that’s the definition of hard-boiled.

One of my favorite quotes from another wonderful mystery writer was about Raymond Chandler: “Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.” —Ross Macdonald

Estleman does something very much like this with the economically depressed, blighted streets of Detroit. He almost makes Detroit sound exotic and glamorous, and I know better – I’ve seen Detroit. Estleman and Walker seem to have a real love for the city, shattered, destitute, and deserted by the companies who abandoned the area for cheap labor and the millions who have had to leave for the hope of other jobs.  

Walker is getting older. He’s my age or just about. He has the same attitude about technology as I do, so I was shocked when he got a cell phone. Is nothing sacred? At least he still has his old office and his old Cutlass (my first car was a ’69 Olds Cutlass). I dread the day he decides to retire.

I’m not going to review this particular book, except to say that it is as wonderful as the others. If you haven’t read Amos Walker before, begin at the beginning. If you have, then get this one as soon as possible and read it quick, preferably with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a shot glass next to you.

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