Motor City Blue
by Loren D. Estleman
The easy way to sum up "Motor City Blue" is to say it tries very, very hard to be Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler. But in the end it's just a cheap copy.
I bought this when Amazon had it on sale for a buck or two, mostly because of the title. Living near the Motor City and a fan of some noir detective novels, I was intrigued by the idea of such a novel set in Detroit. Had I paid more I probably would have been more disappointed.
The story involves Amos Walker, a private detective in Detroit. One day he's staking out a guy suspected of insurance fraud when he sees the old company commander of his former unit in Vietnam. (The story takes place in 1980.) Before he can say hello or anything, the man is taken away by two rough-looking characters.
Shortly after, Amos gets an offer he can't refuse from a mob kingpin. The mob kingpin's ward Maria has gone missing and he wants Amos to find the girl.
As you might have guessed, the two cases connect to each other, sometimes tenuously. I still don't think I've worked it all out in my head. Anyway, the case involves some snooping around at pornography shops and amateur porno studios, so obviously this is not for the squeamish reader.
As I said at the beginning, it tries really hard to be an old-school detective novel. There's a lot of tough guy talk, some of which works and some of which doesn't. The line that begins, "The door opened flatuently..." is an example of one that does not work.
I would say that instead of reading an imitation Hammett or Chandler to just read the genuine article. If you've already read them, then read them again. Why suffer through a lousy imitation, right?
That is all.