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by Loren D. Estleman
Forge, April 2003
269 pages
ISBN: 0765304473

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

POISON BLONDE is the fifteenth novel by Loren D. Estleman. In POISON BLONDE, Amos Walker takes on a beautiful and talented Latina singer as a client. Gilia Cristobal, not her true name, fled her country escaping both a murder charge and her past. Unfortunately, she is being blackmailed by the true Gilia Cristobal and turns to Amos Walker for help. The name she gained her legal immigration papers with belonged to a child that supposedly died in early childhood; unfortunately for her, the blackmailer is the true “owner” of that name. Her request is not that the blackmail is stopped but that it is continued. The blackmailer left instructions that if she was not heard from in 3 months that the documentation she has requiring Gilia’s lies will be made public. Walker has one week left to find the blackmailer before Gilia’s past will be revealed, forcing her to deal with both illegal immigration and murder charges. This short deadline will force Walker to use people he normally would not in order to protect his life, including a man who once tried to kill him. The closer Walker gets to the truth the more dangerous it becomes for him.

The political situation Gilia faced in her native country in South America is realistic enough to be frightening. Civil war and civil unrest will occur everywhere, causing people to do just about anything to escape. Simply buying someone else’s name is not uncommon nor all that dangerous albeit illegal. Unfortunately in this situation, Gilia or rather Mariposa, is forced to atone for her past mistakes. The dangers of being a superstar combined with the threat of past mistakes are the driving theme of this book.

Amos Walker is an interesting detective. He is more of the old-fashioned detective, at least in this book, than the modern troubled loner type. Walker is sarcastic and has a jaded view of life; yet, at the same time there still seems to be a small ray of optimism under the oppression of life. This combination creates an unforgettable detective and story.

Estleman writes a quick-paced, action packed thriller/ mystery for the reader to follow. The political situation Gilia (Mariposa) faced in her native country as well as the politics that make up American life could be drawn from reality. The main characters are interesting and well described while the minor characters are somewhat quirky. POISON BLONDE is a strong addition to the genre and Estleman is a must read for any mystery fan.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, June 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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