Sunday, August 26, 2007

HELP 4: The Hours of the Virgin

For the second time, I have a scratch: The Witchfinder, Estleman's 1997 book in this series (the second from Mysterious Press), wasn't easily available. So HELP 4 is instead the 1998 novel The Hours of the Virgin.

The title refers to several pages of medieval illuminated manuscript; as usual, there are no real-world virgins to be found in Amos Walker's world. This is also the novel in which, inevitably, Walker has to solve the murder of his partner, twenty years before. (And I think the late '90s was when my colleague Jane Dentinger started to complain that the plot of every other mystery novel involved a twenty-year-old murder, as if they were all mainlining Ross Macdonald at the same time.)

It's a solid mystery that moves well and features colorful, believeable characters; if I hadn't read another two Walker books since I finished it, I'd probably be able to give a better precis of it. It's just as good as all the others; Estleman writes the American hardboiled mystery as if it never went out of style.

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