LOREN D. ESTLEMAN – Stress. Detroit #5, hardcover, Mysterious Press, 1996; paperback, 1997.

   Estleman is one of those writers who writes well enough that I generally enjoy whatever he cares to write, but I was damned glad to hear that he’s going to get back to Amos Walker. I liked the first book in the Detroit series, Whiskey River, pretty well, but it’s seemed to me that each succeeding volume has been anywhere from a little to a lot weaker than the one before it.

   Detroit is crumbling by 1972, and has richly earned the title of Murder Capital of America. As a black militant and his minions plot to kidnap the daughter of one of Detroit’s richest white families, a young black policeman finds himself caught between the demands of his conscience and his job — -and between armed Black Power and a police department that may be even more violent,

   Surely Estleman had something better to do with his time than this. Surely. I’ve said in the past that he was a born storyteller and couldn’t write anything I wouldn’t like, but he has now. I didn’t hate it, mind you, but it sure didn’t hold my interest.

   None of the characters came to life, and the newsreel technique he’s employed for the Detroit series,  just didn’t get it done this time. I don’t know what else to say  about it, other than it was just a blah job to me, and that’s something I never  thought I’d say about one of his.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #24, March 1996.