Wednesday, August 29, 2007

HELP 7: Poison Blonde

The 2003 Amos Walker novel was the first from Forge, Estleman's current publisher, and sees the HELP project coming into the homestretch.

There are two problems with Poison Blonde from HELP's point of view: the minor one is that it recycles quite a bit of plot set-up from Sweet Women Lie. In Sweet Women, Walker is hired by a washed-up actress for a job that turns out to be a test to see if he can do the real job. And, in Poison Blonde, a sexy blonde Latina pop singer who is most certainly not Shakira (perish the thought) named Gilla Cristobal does the same thing. The plots diverge pretty quickly after that, so it's only a minor complaint.

The major complaint is, however, a huge plot hole. Gilla tells Walker that she has a Deep Dark Secret in her past, and she would be deported to Unnamed Carribean Island Hell-Hole if it comes out, and she would certainly be judicially murdered there.

I'll need to underline these next few points, and their connections:
  • She tells him this in Detroit.
  • Detroit, which is in sight of, and easy driving distance of, Canada.
  • Canada, the nation that would no more give up a beautiful fugitive to a brutal totalitarian regime than it would fail to say "Thanks, eh" to compliments about Tim Horton's donuts.
(And that all assumes that the US government would be eager to ship a rich, popular, successful, gorgeous singer off to a third-world hell-hole to her near-certain death, and that the public wouldn't be outraged. This book is set in February of 2002, so I'll grant Estleman that...but forgetting about Canada is unforgivable.)

Anyway, Poison Blonde (which should have been titled The Lincoln Question, but never mind that) gets tangled up with a new murder and a murder many years ago in a foreign country (Ross Macdonald Disease popping up again), and an old enemy of Walker's turns up as well. I kept expecting spies to pop out of the woodwork (as they did in Sweet Women Lie; another parallel), and I think I shouldn't say whether they do or not.

Other than that one unforgivable hole at the very center of the plot, Poison Blonde is a solid, twisty mystery novel, another strong entry in a consistent series. I've got three more of these to read, and I'm not tired of them yet.

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