Mysterious Book Report The Sundown SpeechThe Sundown Speech by Loren D. Estelman

Forge/Tom Doherty Associates, $24.99, 216 pages, ISBN 978-0-7653-3736-8

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer vacation season, so we’re kicking it off with a couple of short, fast reads that are perfect ‘beach books’; novels you can finish in one or two afternoons while working on your tan or just chillin’ in the shade…

The Sundown Speech, by Loren D. Estelman is the twenty-fifth installment in his Amos Walker series, and somewhere in the neighborhood of his seventy-fifth published work to date, so there’s plenty to choose from if you like ‘em hard-boiled, with short snappy dialogue from a tough, world-weary, chain-smoking private investigator who’s been there, done that and survived long enough to protagonize another novel.

In The Sundown Speech, Walker reminisces about an old 1990s case where he goes to Ann Arbor—home of the University of Michigan—because he’s been hired by a pair of aging hippies and university associates named Heloise and Dante Gunnar to find a man they’re afraid has fleeced them out of fifteen thousand dollars. They thought they were going to make a barrel of money investing in a science fiction movie entitled Mr. Alien Elect. That was nine months ago. Now they can’t find Jerry Marcus or his movie . . . much less their money . . . and in true egghead style they’re hollering for help from a tough guy. In one scene, where they’re interviewing Walker before hiring him, Heloise asks if he carries a firearm. He’s answers that he is licensed and armed. She tells him they’re big supporters of the anti-gun lobby and demands that Walker leave his gun locked up while working for them. Walker tells her to stuff it, in so many words, whereupon she and Dante recant the request . . . a sly, tongue-in-cheek aside by the author that principles are trumped by self-interest in some segments of society. It takes the ace detective less than a day to find Jerry Marcus. He was stuffed into a closet and shot in the head, dead as dead can be, and Walker’s case is closed. But then, Dante Gunnar is arrested for the murder. Walker’s rehired and the affair takes a couple of weird turns before it segues into a race with time to prevent a madman from killing hundreds, if not thousands of innocent persons and destroying a priceless artifact in the process, while Amos himself walks a highwire trying to stop the impending disaster. This one’s a gas that’s pure reading pleasure from the first page to the last word!


John Dwaine McKenna