I was at the library and I saw a copy of "Retro", the newest book in Loren D. Estleman's series of Amos Walker novels. I hadn't read any of the other novels, and I am always on the lookout for a new series. I am glad I didn't pay for it. I can't say if this is weaker work by an otherwise capable writer, or an average story within a modest series. If you have invested time in following this character in other stories, you will enjoy this book, but otherwise you could spend your reading time on many better books.
In this story, Amos Walker is hired by an elderly retired madam to find her adopted son, who had fled to Canada in the 60's after being involved in a Black Panther style bombing plot that had misfired. The story then spins into the adopted son's lineage, and the death of that man's real father - a promising boxer - gunned down in an unsolved murder in the early 50's.
The better points of the book (and perhaps the series) include Estleman's sense of place and his descriptions of Detroit and his description of minor characters. He also works in some stories about the popularity of boxing in the early days of television and the racial politics of Hollywood in the 1940's and 50's. He has a good sense of sense of pace and suspense, and his story moves along smoothly.
Unfortunately the central serial character Amos Walker, a middle-aged private investigator in Detroit, is a windbag given to twisted metaphors and gumshoe philosophizing. It was so over the top that I wondered if Estleman was writing a parody. The plot is convoluted and the murder's identity and motivation are a flight of fantasy.
Estleman's research on some issues is off. He has Walker travelling to Toronto to interview the fugitive who complains about Canada's "General Services Tax". A moment of research would have told Estleman that the 7 percent federal Goods and Services Tax is only one of two annoying Sales Taxes that most Canadians pay, and that his character could also complain about the 8 percent Ontario Retail Sales Tax.
The dialogue is uneven. There are some good scenes but there is a lot of unrealistic pulpish dialogue.
I have heard that Estleman writes better in the Western genre than the mystery genre, and I get the impression that Amos Walker sells steadily and pays the bills.