cover image Downriver


Loren D. Estleman / Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $15

The eighth Amos Walker novel (Motor City Blue) may not have an especially surprising chief villain, but Estleman is still in the top of the class of private-eye storytellers. Here Walker's client is Richard DeVries, fresh out of prison after a 20-year stretch for arson and armored-car robbery during the 1967 Detroit riots. DeVries, who's black, says he was framed for a murder committed during the robbery, and Walker believes him. DeVries also considers the $200,000 never found after the robbery as his due: ""I paid for it, and now it's mine.'' He identifies a rising auto executive as the ``revolutionary'' who got him to throw the fire-bomb. Soon Walker finds himself involved with a hotshot, would-be car magnate, his ``ex-model'' wife and a centenarian auto pioneer. By the violent ending, Walker has uncovered a computer scam and some ugly, 20-year-old secrets. Estleman's colorful characters, crackling dialgoue, rich plot, authentic Detroit setting and throwaway humoras usualwork very well. (January)