Back in the 1980s, Loren D. Estleman wrote some wonderful mystery novels and a bunch of first-rate short stories. Many of these books and stories involved Estleman’s private detective, Amos Walker. Amos Walker reminds me of Philip Marlowe in Detroit without many of Raymond Chandler’s prose flourishes. The stories in General Murders (1988) draw Walker into several murder investigations. Amos Walk’s specialty is finding people. That skill comes in handy in many of these stories. Most of the plots of the stories in General Murders center around human weakness. The stories are clever and well-written. If you’re looking for private detective stories with actual sleuthing, pick up a copy of General Murders. GRADE: A-
Robber’s Roost
Dead Soldier
Eight Mile and Dequindre
I’m in the Book
Bodyguards Shoot Second
The Prettiest Dead Girl in Detroit
Blond and Blue
Bloody July

23 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #392: GENERAL MURDERS By Loren D. Estleman

  1. steve oerkfitz

    I have his collected Amos Walker stories which contains a lot more. Also like his newer Valentino series which revolves around Hollywood.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, I’ve enjoyed Estleman’s work for decades. I have some of his Valentino books but haven’t found time to read them yet.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    Good choice. I read this one in 1990. Twenty years later I read AMOS WALKER: THE COMPLETE STORY COLLECTION. I haven’t read all of the Walker novels – only half a dozen, I believe – but I’ve also read a number of Estleman’s other books, including the fun PEEPER and the Valentino and Four Horsemen short stories.

    He’s always worth reading and his short stories are among the best reading in the field.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, I totally agree with your assessment of Loren Estleman. He’s the consummate pro. I’ll have to look around and see if I have AMOS WALKER: THE COMPLETE STORY COLLECTION. If not, I’ll have to track down a copy.

  3. Wolf Böhrendt

    Not too much OT:

    This reminded me again that there are so many stories about PIs in the USA – while in Europe they are far and between.

    Generally I’d say that in reality we don’t have many PIs over here – how is the real situation/number of them in the USA?

    i remember the first PI novels I read – the authors were Mickey Spillane of course and …….
    Carter Brown (remember those lurid pictures of half naked women?)


    I also read somewhere that this rise of the number of PIs and the general use of weapons was a kind of consequence of WW2 and the Korean war – many men returned from those wars being accustomed to using a weapon and having problems to reintegrate in society again. But of course I don’t know if that’s just a hypothesis or a proven thing …

    1. maggie mason

      Wolfe, I live down the street from a couple that work as PI’s. I’m not sure whether it’s all computer stuff now, but I know they did do some stakeouts some time ago.

      I know at some point, the US had a reputation for lawlessness (wild west, gangster era), and with the NRA seeming to own congress and thwart gun restrictions, I”m guessing all the mass shootings aren’t going to stop.

      There is a company with commercials on tv to learn to be a pi and stop cyber crime, which is I guess the new big crime.

    2. Jeff Meyerson

      Of course, Carter Brown (Alan Yates) was Australian (born in England), though a lot of his books were set in the States. I think there were a lot more PI novels in the 1980s than there are today. Maybe it’s just because I don’t read that many these days, but I’m pretty sure there aren’t as many being published these days.

    3. george Post author

      Wolf, from 1950 to 1990, Private Eye fiction was a popular genre in the U.S. Dozens of writers made a living writing private eye novels and short stories. But I saw the P.I. genre weakening in the 1980s. I made my opinion known at a private eye fan convention, EYECON, in the 1990s. My opinion wasn’t welcomed, but it proved to be true.

      1. Wolf Böhrendt

        Yes, those lurid covers on the carter Brown novels were something!

        Though of course I only bought those books because
        a) I wanted to learn English and
        b) they were cheap – even in Germany …

  4. maggie mason

    ps I don’t remember reading much Estleman, but know he had a following, though didn’t seem to hit the big time like Crais, etc

    1. george Post author

      Maggie, both Loren Estleman and Bill Pronzini should have had larger audiences. They are superb craftsmen. But the reading tastes of the Public changed and that affected sales.

  5. Jerry House

    Estleman is one of those writers whose work I love but have not followed for years, George. Shame on me. (as I hang my head down in shame as abjectly as possible)

    1. george Post author

      Jerry, that’s why I choose books like GENERAL MURDERS by the excellent Estleman. It reminds us of the great writing that’s waiting for us.

    1. george Post author

      Prashant, Estleman’s writing in his private eye novels is as effortless and smooth as his Western writing. I highly recommend Estleman’s books.


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