Tuesday, August 21, 2007

HELP 2: Sweet Women Lie

Both Silent Thunder (the 1989 Amos Walker novel) and General Murders (a 1988 collection of Walker stories, whose existence I hadn't previously suspected) are scratches; I couldn't get copies of them easily and quickly.

So day 2 of HELP is the 1990 novel Sweet Women Lie, tenth and last in the first sequence of Amos Walker novels by Loren D. Estleman. It continues in Downriver's footsteps, since the plot begins when not-Annette Funicello (ex-'60s beach movie star Gail Hope) hires Walker for a job...that turns out to be an audition for another job...which itself isn't what it seems.

The plot quickly gets complicated and runs away from the initial set-up, so I don't want to go into details (even on a seventeen-year-old novel). But I will say that we rapidly get into a Spy vs. Spy in the streets of Detroit, with various CIA guys (some of whom claim others of whom are rogue, and vice versa) engaging in clandestine meetings, shoot-outs, and other exciting stuff.

It's a bit out of the norm for a PI novel, and I wonder if market pressures to be more "thriller-y" pushed Estleman in that direction. (As I said, this was also the last Walker novel for several years.) The dialogue isn't quite as hardboiled as in Downriver, but Walker still persists in hiding evidence from cops, which never ends well. And as to the female characters...well, let me just point you back at the title.

All in all, it's a solid PI novel of its era -- searching around a bit for a new paradigm, but with a good narrative voice and a twisty, entertaining plot.

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