Written by Loren D. Estleman, the Amos Walker series is about a PI in Detroit who sometimes seems to live on cigarettes and whiskey. Amos Walker is a Vietnam veteran who was thrown out of the Police Academy for punching a fellow cadet. He’s a hard man in a ruined city, scratching out a living looking for lost things.
This divorcé and loner has no difficulty finding crimes in his town to keep him busy. He’s old-fashioned and sarcastic, doesn’t like anything post-WWII, and most importantly, he works to give justice to those who can’t get it for themselves. Amos Walker is not the only Loren D. Estleman character to live in Detroit, this is also the case of Peter Macklin, a hitman for the mob who just wants to quit.
How to read the Amos Walker Series in Order?
Every entry in the Amos Walker book series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Motor City Blue – Private eye Amos Walker’s latest case comes by way of ex-mobster Ben Morningstar, who’s been living out his retirement in Phoenix while raising Maria, the daughter of a long-ago murdered friend. Only now, Maria is missing and the gangster needs Walker’s help. But the trail has gone cold-the only clue is a faded pornographic snapshot…
- Angel Eyes – Amos Walker has seen a lot. But he’s never encountered anything quite like his newest assignment. Ann Maringer, an aging stripper hard at work at one of the city’s many low-grade joints, hires him to find a missing person: herself. She expects to disappear any day now, she says, and she wants to be found.
- The Midnight Man – A routine case puts Amos Walker on the highway to Ann Arbor. Tailing a trucker suspected of faking hijackings, Walker is helped by a good-natured policeman. But the next day, a bullet near the spine sends Walker’s new friend into intensive care, and Walker sets out to find the scum who shot the cop.
- The Glass Highway – On screen, Sandy Broderick is everything a newscaster is supposed to be. He has a deep voice, a ten-thousand-watt smile, and the God-given ability to banter with weathermen until his ears fall off. But when the cameras turn off, he has a private problem: His twenty-year old son, Bud, has disappeared. Amos Walker is going to find him.
- Sugartown – It is hardly unusual for an elderly woman to ask Amos Walker to search for her grandchild. But Martha Evancek’s grandson Michael has been missing for nearly twenty years, having disappeared in the aftermath of a murder. Now, for the old woman’s sake, Amos Walker takes up a cold scent. He expects to find nothing, but he’s in for an unpleasant surprise.
- Every Brilliant Eye – Barry Stackpole was tough once. Amos Walker met him in Cambodia, and they formed the kind of bond that war often creates. At war’s end, they returned to the Motor City. A violent run-in with a big time mobster left Stackpole a leg and two fingers short, and he became an alcoholic. Now he’s fallen off the wagon again, and his girlfriend begs Walker to find him before he drinks himself to death.
- Lady Yesterday – Iris was a great beauty when Amos Walker first saw her-a Jamaican goddess striding stark naked through an unworthy whorehouse. When he bumps into her at a high-class steakhouse just outside of Detroit, she still looks good. She’s come back from the Caribbean to seek out her father. Walker offers to dig for him.
- Downriver – Countless tragedies occurred in the three days of the 1967 Detroit riots, and one of them belonged to Richard DeVries. He was sent up the river for knocking over an armored car that he had never seen before. Twenty years later he’s set free, and the first man he calls on is Amos Walker, asking him for help finding the men who robbed the armored car.
- Silent Thunder – Constance Thayer probably isn’t a nice woman. If she was, she wouldn’t have shot her husband to death. An automobile magnate in a city where internal combustion still reigns supreme, Doyle Thayer Jr. was a wife-beater. At least that’s the story spun by Amos Walker’s new client, a large investigatory outfit hired by Mrs. Thayer to clear her name. Walker’s job is to get the dirt on her late husband.
- Sweet Women Lie – When Amos Walker was a teen, he had a poster of Gail Hope on his wall. A 60s bombshell in the beach blanket tradition, she has fallen hard since her glory days as one of the dying studio system’s final starlets. But when she calls on Amos Walker she remains as lovely as ever: an elegant beauty with a $750,000 problem.
- Never Street – For Neil Catalin, a wealthy man with a happy home, old-fashioned pictures were a hobby that became an obsession. Now he has disappeared, and his wife believes the clue may be in his collection of gruesome classics. She calls on Amos Walker. The journey is far from escapism because this is Detroit, where the guns don’t fire blanks.
- The Witchfinder – The world is waiting for Jay Bell Furlong to die, believing the grand old man of American architecture is on deathwatch in a Los Angeles hospital. In reality, the architect is still near death, yes, but far from the hospital. Before he goes, he has an item of revenge he wants to be seen to, and Amos Walker is to be his instrument.
- The Hours of the Virgin – Hired by a curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts to serve as his bodyguard during a transaction involving a stolen illuminated manuscript, Amos Walker enters a darkened skin-flick theater where the exchange is supposed to take place. When the deal goes south, he’s lucky to leave with his life…and a new lead to pursue in collaring the man who murdered his partner 20 years ago.
- A Smile on the Face of the Tiger – Amos Walker is hired by scheming book editor Louise Starr to find the missing Eugene Booth, an aging pulp fiction writer from the 1950s, to uncover why he has turned down his first book contract in forty years, but the case is soon complicated by Booth’s apparent suicide, a death that could be linked to the murder of his wife, forty years earlier.
- Sinister Heights – Leland Stutch was building automobiles before Henry Ford ever dreamed up the Model T. He dominated Detroit for most of the 20th century. Stutch’s widow, a 30-something beauty with washboard abs, contacts Amos Walker with the most unusual propositions he’s ever heard. Stutch left mistresses-and love children-all over Michigan. To stave off any future paternity suits, Rayellen hires Walker to locate Stutch’s illegitimate offspring and pay them off.
- Poison Blonde – Who is Gilia Cristobal? She’s simply one of the hottest of hot Latina singers. Nothing in her life, however, is simple. In her native land she was involved with people the government didn’t like, and she barely escaped with her life to start fresh in the United States. Now she’s in Detroit to make music and wants Amos Walker to protect her from those who have threatened her life.
- Retro – Beryl Garnet was a madam and asks Amos Walker to make sure that her son gets her ashes when she’s gone. He finds her son, who has been in Canada since the 1960s, evading the law since he was a Vietnam War protester. But before he can get settled back in Detroit, Garnet’s son is dead, with him as the prime suspect.
- Nicotine Kiss – Jeff Starzek, an old friend who smuggles cigarettes for a living, saves Walker’s life, getting him to the hospital after he’s taken a bullet in the leg. A month later, still convalescing, Walker gets a panicked phone call from Starzek’s sister. Jeff is missing.
- American Detective – Ex-Detroit Tigers pitcher Darius Fuller wants Walker to break off his daughter’s engagement to Hilary Bairn, a man he believes is after her two-million-dollar trust. Walker goes to Bairn’s apartment, only to be ambushed by cops. A murder has taken place, and the victim is Fuller’s daughter.
- The Left-Handed Dollar – Joseph Michael Ballista knows most of the ways to make an illegal buck. That’s why he’s in trouble again. But his crafty lawyer, Lucille Lettermore is determined to free him by getting all his previous convictions set aside, starting with one for attempted murder. When she hires Detroit private detective Amos Walker to look into the old crime, she immediately has a problem: the intended victim was investigative reporter Barry Stackpole, Walker’s only real friend.
- Amos Walker: The Complete Story Collection – This anthology collects all thirty-two previously published Amos Walker stories, a previously unpublished story written for the collection, and an introduction by Mr. Estleman.
- Infernal Angels – Working to overcome his technophobic inclinations to help recover stolen goods for an electronics retailer, Detroit private investigator Amos Walker is forced to team up with the local police and the FBI when two men connected to the case are murdered and a link to a heroin smuggling ring is discovered.
- Burning Midnight – Amos Walker knows Detroit, from the highest to the lowest, and that includes the gangs of Mexicantown. When a friend asks Walker to get his son’s brother-in-law out of one of two feuding gangs, Walker gets in trouble fast.
- Don’t Look for Me – The missing woman has left a handwritten note that said, “Don’t look for me.” Any P.I. would take that as a challenge, especially when he found out that she’d left the same message once before, when having an illicit affair. But this time it’s different. The trail leads Amos Walker to an herbal remedies store, where the beautiful young clerk knows nothing about the dead body in the basement…or about any illegal activity that might be connected to the corpse.
- You Know Who Killed Me – Amos Walker is in Iroquois Heights, his least favorite town. The area is flooded with billboards rented by the widow of Donald Gates, an ordinary suburbanite found shot to death in his basement on New Year’s Eve: “YOU KNOW WHO KILLED ME!” they read, above the number of the sheriff’s tip line. Initially hired by the sheriff’s department to run down anonymous tips, Walker investigates further.
- The Sundown Speech – Amos Walker is hired by Helen and Dante Gunner, a bohemian Ann Arbor couple, to find Jerry Marcus, a film director who has disappeared with their investment money. It’s one of Walker’s easiest jobs to date. In just a few short hours, Walker locates Marcus in his bedroom…murdered, his body shoved into a cupboard, a bullet through his head. This case is opened and shut quickly, but Walker can’t quite let it go.
- The Lioness Is the Hunter – Detroit entrepreneur Carl Fannon hires Walker to trace Emil Haas, his partner, whose sudden disappearance has jeopardized their firm’s plans to purchase the historic Sentinel Building. Almost immediately, the missing man shows up and asks the detective to meet him in the empty Sentinel to discuss a top-secret concern. Walker complies, only to find not Haas, but Fannon’s suffocated corpse locked in a basement vault.
- Black and White Ball (crossover with the Peter Macklin series) – Detroit hitman Peter Macklin forces private eye Amos Walker to furnish protection for Laurie, Macklin’s estranged wife, while Macklin tracks down the party who has threatened to kill her.
- When Old Midnight Comes Along – Amos Walker is hired by one Francis X. Lawes, a private-sector mover and shaker in Detroit politics, to prove that his wife, Paula, who disappeared under sinister circumstances shortly more than six years ago, is dead, so he can remarry without having to wait for the seven-year-declaration-of-death rule to kick in.
- Cut-Throat Dogs – Nearly twenty years ago, college freshman April Goss was found dead in her bathtub, an apparent suicide, but suspicion soon fell on her boyfriend. Dan Corbeil was convicted of her murder and sent to prison. Case closed. Or is it?
- Monkey in the Middle – It’s summer in Detroit and Walker’s just received word that his ex-wife has passed away. He can use a distraction, which arrives in the form of a young, would-be investigative journalist who has gotten in way over his head. He needs Walker’s protection, but is suspiciously vague about why and from whom. And he’s not the only one playing their cards way too close to their chest.
- City Walls – When a search for a fugitive embezzler leads Amos Walker to Cleveland, fellow visitor Emmett Yale, a leading figure in the electric-car industry in Detroit, hires the private detective to investigate the death of his stepson, Lloyd Lipton, in a random freeway shooting. Yale believes Clare Strickling, a former employee, arranged the killing to silence Lipton, who is suspected of selling illegal inside-trader information to Strickling.
If you like the Amos Walker reading order, you may want to read Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, and Robert Parker’s Boston PI, Spenser,