Sinister Heights
By Loren D. Estleman
Mysterious Press - February 2002
ISBN 0892967382 - Hardcover
Mystery / PI - Hardboiled

Reviewed by Dennis Collins,
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After fifteen episodes, Loren Estleman's tough private investigator Amos Walker is still a very unpredictable and interesting character. He has the mind of a scholar, the fists of a prizefighter, the wit of a comedian, and the heart of a Saint. You never know just what he might d,o but you're sure that it will be the right thing.

Sinister Heights takes us to the world of billionaires who built their fortunes on the backs of American labor. Leland Stutch, the last remaining pioneer of Detroit's auto industry and over a century old, has just died, leaving his vast fortune in the hands of his very young widow. Rayellen Stutch has hired Walker to trace the illegitimate offspring of her late husband so that she can settle any claims against the estate before they become a legal issue. It should be a simple assignment, handled in a day or two and then forgotten.

But things get complicated in a hurry when Walker discovers that Stutch's illegitimate daughter now has a son of her own and is on the run from an abusive husband. The closer the detective gets to heirs, the more dangerous his mission becomes.

It is soon obvious to Walker that someone would rather kill him than let him discover the truth. A high-speed encounter on an Interstate Highway results in the death of an old friend of Walker's and the abduction of Leland Stutch's young grandson. Circumstances force Walker to make a bold and unique move to rescue the young boy and uncover the identity of the killer.

I won't reveal any more of the plot, but I highly recommend this novel. Its characters are lifelike, the dialog clever and fresh, and the story is told with Estleman's magic use of the language. It seems like the terms Noir and Hard-Boiled were created to describe a story like this.


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