“Amos Walker: The Complete Story Collection” by Loren D. Estleman

c.2010, Tyrus Books
$32.95 / $33.90 Canada
600 pages

By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

You’ve got your week all planned out.

There’s a detective show on Mondays. Two on Tuesdays, both at the same time (you’ll record one). Wednesdays, there are two of them back-to-back. There’s just one you want to watch on Thursday and Friday each, which leaves the weekend to catch up on repeats and the occasional odd cop show. What can you say? You’re a fan.

Dying for a decent detective drama? Then shut off the TV and grab “Amos Walker: the Complete Story Collection” by Loren D. Estleman. If you think CSI is the B-E-S-T, just you wait…

In 1980, author Loren D. Estleman introduced Private Investigator Amos Walker to the world. Walker is smart but he makes mistakes. He has a sarcastic wit that crooked cops and criminals rarely catch. And he has a knack for solving the worst crimes committed in and around Detroit.

In celebration of Walker’s 30th “anniversary”, Estleman pulls together every one of his Amos Walker stories, and he gives fans a brand-new one.

In “Needle”, an old man with a faded tattoo on his forearm shoots a young intruder lurking in his back yard. When Walker arrives, he finds a tattoo on the corpse’s face: a newly-gotten swastika. It’s a clear case of a homeowner protecting his property, until Walker aimlessly pages through a photo album.

Redline Records’ Sheilah Sorrell is in trouble and she won’t say why, but her friend Ansel Albany knows it must be big so he calls his old pal Amos Walker. Sheilah is no more forthcoming to Walker than she is to Albany, but in “Deadly Force”, Walker knows she’s being smacked around by her boyfriend, Ronnie Madrid. When Madrid shows up dead, Sheilah sings a different tune.

And when Max the Seeing Eye dog is stolen, his owner grieves. Max was not just a working dog, he was a beloved companion and in “Dogs”, his owner hires Amos Walker to find her boy. Walker immediately knows that it’s more than a Cave Canum case; this crime has gone to the dogs in more ways than one.

Though the stories in “Amos Walker: The Complete Story Collection” are set in modern times, you have to concentrate to keep that in mind. That’s because each short tale has the distinct feel of a flickery old black-and-white 1930s detective movie, and to fans of this genre, that’s irresistible.

Author Loren D. Estleman’s main character, Amos Walker, is a PI with a conscience, a man who gives money back to clients who pay too much, and who remembers his friends, even if they’re in prison. Walker isn’t flashy; he drives an old beater and lives in a flat he barely visits. He’s no womanizer, but he’s good with a gun, he’s got brains, and wow, I liked that.

Be aware that “Amos Walker: The Complete Story Collection” is, at 600 pages, a brick of a book. But if you’re a fan of detective novels, get this one and you’ve got the rest of this year all planned out.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.