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The Witchfinder

by S. Fowler Wright

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"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 moustache he hadn't bothered to bleach." That description of a lawyer who summons private detective Amos Walker to a secret meeting with Jay Bell Furlong, a world-famous architect who is supposedly dying in Los Angeles, could have come straight from Raymond Chandler. So could characters with names like Royce Grayling and Lynn Arsenault. That's why Chandler fans should rejoice that Loren D. Estleman's Walker--who first appeared in 1997's Never Street--returns in grand style in The Witchfinder. Walking the wickedly hot streets of a Detroit described as vividly and lovingly as Chandler's Los Angeles, Walker searches for the nasty parties who faked a photo that shows Furlong's much younger lady friend in bed with another man, thereby scuttling the architect's last chance for romance. Walker takes a bullet to the head, sneaks out of the hospital too early, and generally behaves as though he hasn't heard that this classic branch of the mystery tree has been declared dead by so-called experts. Other Estleman outings in paperback include Red Highway, Stamping Ground, and Stress.

From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From AudioFile
Here's another entry in Estleman's popular detective series set in Detroit and featuring Amos Walker, private eye. A dying, rich architect hires Walker to find out who faked an adulterous photograph thirty years ago and ruined a budding romance with the would-be love of his life. John Kenneth reinforces the tough and faintly cynical tone through nicely chosen characterizations. Kenneth uses accent to define a character, not pacing or volume or tone. Particularly well done is his version of inner-city street talk. D.W. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

From Kirkus Reviews
A bored Amos Walker, Estleman's long-running p.i. (Never Street, 1997, etc.) who tosses off enough one-liners to glut even the Private Eye Writers of America, is waiting for a chance to drop a wisecrack on someone, anyone. When the phone rings, it's the longed-for someone: Stodgy lawyer Stuart Lund wants to hire Walker on behalf of a friend, the legendary architect Jay Bell Furlong, who is dying of cancer and has perhaps just two weeks left in which to right a wrong that has him on the rack. And Walker's job is to track down a. . . witchfinder. A what? Well, during the 17th century whenin places like Salemhunting witches was the favored form of scapegoating, you still couldn't just hang one willy-nilly. Scintillas of proof were required. Thus, fabricating evidence amounted to a cottage industry, and witch-hunters, we're told, subcontracted this work to witchfinders. Eight years earlier, Furlong had been sent a damning photographa picture of his young and beautiful fiance in bed with another man. The engagement was broken, but Furlong now knows the photo was doctoredby a contemporary witchfinder. So Walker sets off on his mission, and a bumpy ride it turns out to be. But what's a p.i. novel without bumps and bruises? And bottles and blonds? And buckets of one-liners to brighten life for the dour? A brisk, savvy number, but for the true measure of Estleman's talent, search out his four-book Detroit crime cycleespecially the opener, Whiskey River (1990). -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From the Inside Flap
The Bookcassette® format is a special recording technique developed as a means of condensing the full, unabridged audio text of a book to record it on fewer tapes. In order to listen to these tapes, you will need a cassette player with balance control to adjust left/right speaker output. Special adaptors to allow these tapes to be played on any cassette player are available through the publisher or some US retail electronics stores.



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