Cover image for A smile on the face of the tiger
A smile on the face of the tiger
Estleman, Loren D.
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Publication Information:
New York : Mysterious Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
295 pages ; 24 cm
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"I thought I'd never see her again. But never is longer than forever". She is book editor Louise Starr, a beautiful and scheming ghost from Amos Walker's past; and she wants the Detroit private eye to find a missing paperback writer from the 1950s and ask him why he turned down his first book contract in 40 years. "You're perfect for the job", Louise says. "You're the kind of detective Booth wrote about; the kind they say doesn't exist in real life". Eugene Booth's trail leads to a rustic motel cabin, where the crusty old pro is hammering out his first novel in decades on a battered Smith-Corona with a case of bourbon for inspiration. But when the writer winds up hanging from his own belt, Walker must discover the connection between the apparent suicide, the murder of Booth's wife 40 years before -- and a deadly secret as old as World War II.

Author Notes

Loren D. Estleman was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on September 15, 1952. He received a B.A. in English literature and journalism from Eastern Michigan University in 1974. He spent several years as a reporter on the police beat before leaving to write full time in 1980. He wrote book reviews for such newspapers as The New York Times and The Washington Post and contributed articles to such periodicals as TV Guide.

He is a writer of mysteries and westerns. His first novel was published in 1976 and since then he has published more than 70 books including the Amos Walker series, Writing the Popular Novel, Roy and Lillie: A Love Story, The Confessions of Al Capone, and a The Branch and the Scaffold. He received four Shamus Awards from the Private Eye Writers of America, five Golden Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, the Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement from Western Writers of America, and the Michigan Author's Award in 1997.

(Bowker Author Biography) He lives in Whitmore Lake, Michigan.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Eugene Booth wrote noir novels in the fifties but then disappeared, apparently a victim of the bottle. He resurfaces, lawsuit in hand, when a publisher reprints one of his books without permission. With his name back in the headlines, and a new contract pending from a legit publisher, Booth disappears again. Detroit PI Amos Walker is hired by the publisher, Louise Starr (an old flame of Walker's), to find the elusive writer. Walker, more than a little intrigued by the case--living the noir life himself--tracks Booth down to a fishing resort in northern Michigan. There he strikes up a friendship with the hard-drinking, bitter man and learns that the writer is working on a nonfiction account of a Detroit race riot in the forties. When Booth unexpectedly dies in an obviously staged suicide, Walker realizes that the half-century-old race riot may still hold secrets that powerful people in Detroit do not want revealed. Walker is himself a modernized version of the pulp-era PI, and award-winner Estleman has written a very entertaining thriller that offers a fitting tribute both to the genre and to the tough, passionate men who created it. --Wes Lukowsky

Publisher's Weekly Review

HThe three Shamus Awards Estleman has won for his Amos Walker mysteries (The Hours of the Virgin, etc.) testify to his reputation as the torchbearer of the classic PI yarn. In his 14th novel about the tough-minded Detroit gumshoe, Estleman pays explicit tribute to his artistic ancestors, dedicating the book to "Hamilton, Prather, McCoy, and Spillane" and others, and centering its complicated, absorbing plot around the fates of a classic paperback writer and the bombshell blonde who posed for his books' lurid covers. Walker is hired by sleek Louise Starr, owner of a nascent New York publishing house, to find Eugene Booth, author of such titles as Tough Town and Bullets Are My Business. Booth has called it quits on a contract to reprint his best-known novel, Paradise Valley, set within the horrific Detroit race riot of June 1943; Starr wants to know why. Walker locates Booth, a broken old drunk tapping at a manual typewriter, at a fishing lodge north of Motor City. They drink and they talkDabout the murder of Booth's wife way back when and about what really went down at the riot; hours later, Walker finds Booth hanged in his cabin. Suicide? Then how to explain the "heeled" guy in an adjacent cabin, who Walker soon learns is hit man-turned-bestselling author Glad Eddie Cypress? Fleta Skirrett, former paperback jacket honey, now waiting to die in an old folks' home, offers some clues, and so does the son of the painter of Booth's covers, who lives surrounded by plastic-wrapped paperbacks. A good, involving mystery featuring strong characters and prose as smooth as the brim of a fedora, this novel makes smart points about writing, publishing and the cult of mysteries. Anyone who appreciates the difference between a gat and a gun, a gam and a leg, is going to wolf it down. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Amos Walker's 14th adventure is a corker. A New York book editor recruits him to locate Eugene Booth, who used to write noir novels back in the 1950s. Booth disappeared, and the world thought he was dead until he resurfaces long enough to file a lawsuit against a publisher who reprinted one of his books without permission. With the publicity of this event, another publisher (a legit one, this time) wants to reprint some of Booth's other titles, but he has vanished again. Walker traces him to a fishing resort in northern Michigan only to have him turn up dead, the victim of an apparent suicide. Estleman is a fine writer who can skewer the classic noir form while paying homage to it. Walker's wry wit gets better with every book, and John Kenneth's wonderful, gritty voice is perfect. Highly recommended for all public libraries. Barbara Perkins, Irving P.L., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.