Loren D. Estleman is the quintessential noir detective writer, and Amos Walker is his quintessential noir detective. In Retro, Walker has made a lot of friends--and a few enemies--in his years as a detective in Detroit, but he has never had to deal with quite the trouble he finds when he agrees to grant the death-bed wish of Beryl Garnet. Beryl was a madam, but she had a son a long while ago, and asks Walker to make sure that her son gets her ashes when she's gone.
He finds her son, who has been in Canada since the 1960s, evading the law since he was a Vietnam War protester. A simple favor, melancholy, but benign. Except that before he can get settled back in Detroit Garnet's son is dead, with him as the prime suspect.
He has little choice but to find out who might have done the deed and tried to pin the blame on him. . . and in the process he discovers another murder, of a boxer from the 1940s, Curtis Smallwood, who happens to have been the man's father. If that wasn't bad enough, his task is made much more complicated by the fact that the two murders, fifty-three years apart, were committed with the very same gun. And in a place where it was impossible for a gun to be.
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Reading a new Amos Walker adventure is like settling down and listening to an old, reliably entertaining friend. In this 17th book in the series (after 2003's Poison Blonde), Beryl Garnet, a dying madam, summons the Detroit detective to find her long-missing son, Delwayne, to whom she wishes to leave her ashes. Since Delwayne fled to Canada during the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Amos gets a Canadian counterpart to trace him. Soon after Amos meets the son, he winds up dead, and Amos becomes the main suspect in his shooting death. Amos later discovers that Delwayne's dad, a talented black boxer, was murdered in the 1940s and a single gun killed both father and son. A sucker for damsels in distress, Amos encounters more than one as he digs down into the muck for the real murderer. Estleman keeps Walker determinedly low-tech: he goes to the library, pores over records and does his own legwork. He riffs on the city and gently ribs Canadian culture across the river. Why does Amos drive to Toronto? It's a chance for him to smuggle back a box of alleged Cuban cigars, a longstanding Motor City tradition. In the process of setting things right, Amos has to let go of some old and new attachments, leaving the reader eager for more.