Wednesday, August 29, 2007

HELP 6: Sinister Heights

And Sinister Heights was the last "Amos Walker" novel from Mysterious Press; I hope he moved on because he got a better offer from the new publisher (Forge), not because Mysterious dumped him. This was the new book for 2002.

The family of Commodore Leland Stutch, the fictional auto and petrochemical magnate whom Walker met (at the age of a hundred-and-something, soon before his death) in Downriver, makes a reappearance here. This time, Stutch's much younger widow hires Walker to find a bastard child of the old Commodore -- from long before her time -- and cut the bastard girl in for a small share of the family fortune. (The widow is doing this, she says, to forestall a potential suit for a large share of the fortune, as that side of the family keeps increasing -- the child has grown up, and has had a daughter who in turn grew up, married, and had a young son.)

Walker finds the bastard daughter without much trouble, but the next generation is a bit trickier to uncover -- and digging them up leads to car crashes, murders, accidental deaths, kidnappings, and a final exciting but unlikely confrontation on the site of an auto plant fortified like a castle.

This is one of the best of the Walker novels, even if the ending gets a bit large-scale for a private-detective story. If anyone out there is looking to try this series, I'd recommend this novel. Walker doesn't insult anyone for no good reason that I can remember, and there are interesting and varied female characters. It's got a great atmospheric cover, and one of the better plots of the series. If this book did get him dumped by Mysterious, that was a damn shame.

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