cover image General Murders

General Murders

Loren D. Estleman / Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $16

Estleman's Amos Walker is at or near the top of the list of hardboiled private eyes and fans will gobble up these 10 short stories. Dating from 1982 to 1987, these samplings are good indicators of the pleasures in Estleman's longer works ( Motor City Blue , Downriver ). ``Greektown,'' ``Eight Mile and Dequindre'' and ``The Prettiest Dead Girl in Detroit'' convey especially well the gritty flavor of Detroit. ``Robbers' Roost'' and ``Bloody July'' are both evocative of the lurid days of Prohibition. ``I'm in the Book'' is almost a mood piecedespite its hard edgeswith a misty, ambiguous ending. Walker is a wonderful creation, the epitome of the handsome, hard-drinking, hard-punching tough guy with a heart. His first-person narrative style is probably what appeals most, both to moderns and to devotees of the Hammett-Chandler tradition of cracking wise: ``You don't like blondes?'' a woman asks Walker. He says, ``I'm not sure I ever met one.'' A must for private-eye buffs. (September)