Forge/ Tom Doherty Associates, $25.99, 240 pages, ISBN 978-0-7653-88476
There must be something in the air, water . . . or maybe an unknown isotope emanating out of the ground at night, that germinates world class crime writers in, around and about Detroit, Michigan. From the late great Elmore Leonard, to the much-lauded Steve Hamilton, to the indefatigable, prolific and much admired Loren D. Estleman, they’re all masters of the hard-boiled crime fiction universe, who never let their readers down.
Black and White Ball, by Loren D. Estleman, is his eighty-first novel and there’s no sign, at this point, of him ever slowing down. Mr. Estleman is, in fact, as creative, fresh and original as he was three decades ago . . . a rare feat in today’s era of Energizer Bunny-like rapid reproduction novels that are all about the authors name recognition and saleability . . . and not about plot, character development, or innovation. Black and White Ball, is by contrast, a breath of fresh air because the author reprises two of his best characters: a tough, wise-cracking private eye named Amos Walker, and a remorseless cold-blooded contract killer named Peter Macklin, and puts them together in the same novel for the first time.
When Macklin the hit mans second ex-wife is threatened with death by his own son, he hires Walker the PI to protect her, while Macklin (the father) tracks down Macklin (his son by his first ex-wife) and “Sets things right,” in his own words. What follows is Walker being forced to do a job he doesn’t want, for a client he’d like to see in jail, protecting a woman who’s unsympathetic, as well as unwilling to accept the mortal danger she’s in. Stuck in the middle between two vicious killers, Amos Walker is just trying to stay alive in this fast-paced and compelling novel from the pen of a Master Wordsmith at the top of his game. With old knights, dark deeds, and nefarious villains, crime fiction aficionados will eat this one up and ask, as did young Oliver, “Please sir, may we have some more?” The sooner the better the MBR says!!