cover image The Hours of the Virgin

The Hours of the Virgin

Loren D. Estleman / Author Mysterious Press $23 (288p) ISBN 97

Amos Walker, Detroit PI, revisits the past in the 13th entry in an estimable hard-boiled series (The Witchfinder, etc.). In the echoing, nearly empty galleries of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Walker agrees to accompany a curator on a private mission to recover a recently stolen medieval illuminated manuscript, the Hours of the title. But in the rundown skin-flick theater where the transaction is to take place, Walker is distracted by a young woman and then shot at. The curator, his package, the woman and shooter disappear. The woman turns out to be the young wife (""she was pushing twenty but not hard enough to dent it"") of the theater owner, a notorious and wealthy porn king--and rare book collector--confined to a wheelchair. Also involved in the shooting is Earl North, the man who killed Walker's beloved first boss, Dale Leopold, 20 years before, a crime for which North went free. Vivid memories of Leopold combine with the debilitating effects of the flu and midwinter in Motor City to keep Walker on a bitter edge until, the flu broken and a connection between crimes old and new made, readers are led to the fitting conclusion. Like all Estleman offerings, this one comes with extraordinarily observant narration, intelligent dialogue, memorable characters--and style to spare. (Aug.)