The butler didn't; Angel Eyes, by Loren D. Estleman. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. $11.95.; The Case of the Sliding Pool, by E. V. Cunningham. New York: Delacorte Press. 30 for a Harry, by Richard Hoyt. New York: Evans.$8.95.; Death Notes, by Ruth Rendell. New York: Pantheon. $9.95.; Roast Eggs, by Douglas Clark. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. $8.95.; Sherlock Holmes in America, by Bill Blackbeard. New York: Harry N. abrams Inc.
Loren D. Estleman's first Amos Walker mystery," Motor City Blue," was good, but his new one, "Angel Eyes," is better. With it, Estleman joins the ranks of such fine mystery writers as Robert B. Parker, Arthur Lyones, and sTephen Greenleaf.
This time Walker, who is based in Detroit, is trying to untangle a case that involves, amon others, a missing judge (presumed dead), the head of a labor union, an exotic dancer, and a host of supporting characters.
the police would prefer to do without Walker and his unorthodox methods, but he considers himself "just a guy earning his living."
"Angel Eyes" also brings us one of the most likable characters to appear in a mystery in some time. She is a feisty older woman named maggie, who writes for the Huron (Mich.) Herald.She matches Walker wisecrack for wisecrack, adding brightness and levity to a novel whose subject is necessarily gray.
The plot of "angel Eyes" is similar to those of Ross McDonald's Lew Archer novels, in which recently committed crimes are caused by events of long ago. Estleman adds some new twists and shows off his considerable talent to advantage.
In "The Case of the Sliding Pool" a mudslide carries away a swimming pool, and the Beverly Hills couple who own it are horrified to find a body buried underneath. Detective Sgt. Masao Masuto sets to work to find the identity of the victim.
Trouble is: There are no clues. In fact, the murder took place 30 years before. How will he do it?
With persistence and good fortune, Masuto uncovers convincing evidence that the murderer is still alive and sets about uncovering his identity.
Part of the book's charm lies in Masuto himself, who is not just a carbon copy of Sam Spade. A practicing Buddhist, he is also skilled in the Japanese martial arts, yet he's determined to avoid using them.
This is the fourth Masuto mystery, and, while its plot is implausible, it will please fans of E. V. Cunningham (a pseudonym for novelist Howard Fast).
"30 for a Harry" is the second outing for newspaperman-turned-private investigator John Denson. The sleuth is called in to find out whether a crack investigative reporter on a Seattle newspaper is accepting bribes to slant his articles.
Denson's investigations lead through the city's high and lowlife, introduce some romance, and, eventually, bring on a predictable denouement. Author Richard Hoyt writes fairly convincingly of newspaper life, but the pace of his novel is too quick for proper development of the action or characters. Unfortunately, Denson isn't developed fully enough for readers to care deeply about him, either.
In "Death Notes," the hero is Chief Inspector Wexford, who has been attempting to rid England of crime for some time now. He returns here in his 11 th case to sort out the confusion surrounding the death of Sir Manuel Camargue, the world-renowned flutist.
By the end of the first chapter readers have been told that Sir Manuel was murdered, but Wexford must piece together clues to discover that and to overturn the verdict of accidental death.
Right off, he doubts that the woman who claims to be Sir Manuel's daughter and heir rally is who she says she is. The case becomes complicated in the extreme, until, at long last, Wexford realizes the solution is really quite simple.
"Double Notes" is a satire on the needlessly comlex mysteries that all too often make their way into print. Thanks to Ruth Rendell's fine prose, the book shows very few seams. And like all of her other novels, it is well mannered.
In "Roast Eggs," we meet James and Angela Connal, a couple who aren't getting along. Angela is a major stockholder in the company James manages, and while he is away on business, their house burns down -- with Angela in it.
Inspector Hill of the Elmhurst police suspects arson and murder. Hill believes James is guilty, yet the evidence is merely circumstantial. Unable to come up with a solution, Hill calls Chief Superintendent Masters and Detective Chief Inspector Green of Scotland Yard for help. The beauty of "Roast Eggs" lies in the ingenious collaboration of these three detectives in finding what actually happened to Angela Connal.
"Sherlock Holmes in America" is a lavish coffee table book packed with comic strips, cartoons, advertisements, articles, movie reviews, and more -- a varied assortment of "Sherlockiana" -- for Baker Street devotees only.