cover image The Witchfinder

The Witchfinder

Loren D. Estleman / Author Mysterious Press $22.5 (306p) ISBN

Mystery fans who think that Estleman's novels about the Detroit-based PI Amos Walker (returned after a seven-year retirement in 1997's Never Street) make him the natural heir of Raymond Chandler will have that conviction confirmed here. Walker's latest tale is so rich in Chandler-esque dialogue and description that it would likely elicit a boozy chuckle of recognition from the master himself: ""Stuart Lund came in at six-two and three hundred pounds in gray silk tailoring with a large head of wavy yellow hair, blue eyes like wax drippings, and a black chevron-shaped moustach he hadn't bothered to bleach."" Lund is a lawyer who summons Walker to a secret meeting at a Detroit airport hotel with Jay Bell Furlong, a world-famous architect who is supposedly dying in Los Angeles. Before he passes on, Furlong wants Walker to find the person who ended the architect's romance with a much younger woman eight years ago by sending him a photo of her in bed with another man. Furlong has just discovered that the photo was a fake. The possible suspects include various Furlong family members and several rivals. Struggling through an overheated Detroit described as vividly and lovingly as Chandler's L.A., Walker survives a bullet to his head and sneaks out of the hospital against doctors' orders to get on with the case, just as Philip Marlowe would have. There may be a few too many descriptions of staircases, buildings and old cars, but Estleman more than makes up for these digressions by drawing new life from one of the genre's classic resources. (May)