Stress: A Novel of Detroit

Loren D. Estleman, Author
Loren D. Estleman, Author Mysterious Press $21.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-89296-553-3
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Its urban tensions arise from race, not booze, but the Detroit of this fifth volume (after Edsel) in Estleman's ongoing saga of the Motor City is as rife with violence and corruption as the Prohibition-era burg of Whiskey River, which began the series in 1990. After three men are shot by Paul Kubicek, an off-duty cop moonlighting as a security guard, during an attempted robbery at a posh New Year's Eve party, the Detroit Police Department greets 1973 by declaring that Kubicek was working undercover for STRESS (Stop the Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets), a notorious ""police crackdown squad."" Even so, the DPD can't bury the fact that the three men Kubicek shot were the only blacks at the party, and that only two of them were involved in the robbery. To head off a scandal, black policeman Charles Battle is assigned to investigate, and he comes up against the racism of the old-boy cop network. It turns out that the heist was organized by Wilson McCoy, one of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted, a marijuana chain-smoking black radical who's trying to get money to buy illegal weapons. Through grittily precise detail of character and place, Estleman compresses the subsequent action, which revolves around kidnapping and multiple murders, into a tightly paced yarn that reads like a taut docudrama. The story culminates in a wild courtroom finale in which several kinds of justice--and injustice--are meted out at once. It's difficult to believe that Detroit will ever find a more eloquent poet than Estleman, who here, as in his Amos Walker PI mysteries, celebrates the gristle and sinew of the city as well as its aching heart. (Mar.)
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