Loren D. Estleman,
The Left-Handed Dollar
(Tor, 2013)

The Left-Handed Dollar, which refers to money made through crime, is Loren D. Estleman's 20th Amos Walker novel. Walker is a private eye, operating in Detroit; he's an older guy now, a veteran of Detroit's burgeoning crime scene, and for his lifetime as a private eye he has an rundown office, an older house and less than $2,000 in the bank. He has never operated a computer and has trouble with cell phones, maintains a healthy amount of cynicism and is very good at his job. He also is a lot of fun for a reader to be around, which helps to account for the success and duration of this series.

In this one, one of the stronger entries in the series, Walker is hired by legendary defense attorney, Lucille Lettermore -- a.k.a. Lefty Lucy -- to try and find evidence that will overturn the conviction on attempted murder charges of Joseph Michael Ballista, also known as Joey Ballistic, a mafioso currently released from prison into house custody because he's dying. Lettermore is determined to free him by getting all of his previous convictions set aside; get the attempted murder conviction to fall and the rest fall into line like dominos.

Despite the fact that the victim was Walker's only friend, an investigative reporter, Walker takes the case and, as he investigates, discovers that great life lesson that most crime novels explore: both people and things are rarely what they appear to be.

Walker's trail leads through a changing Detroit -- Estleman does a great job with the local color -- on to the women in Joey Ballistic's life to crooked cops, other cops who want to strip Walker of his license, and other victims. It's a case that instead of breaking open and simplifying as we read simply gets more complicated, leading to an ending that is both revelatory and logical.

The Left-Handed Dollar is a solid piece of work, a book that will make you happy that Estleman has published about 60 other novels that you can read next.

book review by
Michael Scott Cain

18 May 2013

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new