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Day: October 11, 2010

“Amos Walker: The Complete Story Collection” by Loren D. Estleman

“Amos Walker: The Complete Story Collection” by Loren D. Estleman

c.2010, Tyrus Books
$32.95 / $33.90 Canada
600 pages


You’ve got your week all planned out.

There’s a detective show on Mondays. Two on Tuesdays, both at the same time (you’ll record one). Wednesdays, there are two of them back-to-back. There’s just one you want to watch on Thursday and Friday each, which leaves the weekend to catch up on repeats and the occasional odd cop show. What can you say? You’re a fan.

Dying for a decent detective drama? Then shut off the TV and grab “Amos Walker: the Complete Story Collection” by Loren D. Estleman. If you think CSI is the B-E-S-T, just you wait…

In 1980, author Loren D. Estleman introduced Private Investigator Amos Walker to the world. Walker is smart but he makes mistakes. He has a sarcastic wit that crooked cops and criminals rarely catch. And he has a knack for solving the worst crimes committed in and around Detroit.

In celebration of Walker’s 30th “anniversary”, Estleman pulls together every one of his Amos Walker stories, and he gives fans a brand-new one.

In “Needle”, an old man with a faded tattoo on his forearm shoots a young intruder lurking in his back yard. When Walker arrives, he finds a tattoo on the corpse’s face: a newly-gotten swastika. It’s a clear case of a homeowner protecting his property, until Walker aimlessly pages through a photo album.

Redline Records’ Sheilah Sorrell is in trouble and she won’t say why, but her friend Ansel Albany knows it must be big so he calls his old pal Amos Walker. Sheilah is no more forthcoming to Walker than she is to Albany, but in “Deadly Force”, Walker knows she’s being smacked around by her boyfriend, Ronnie Madrid. When Madrid shows up dead, Sheilah sings a different tune.

And when Max the Seeing Eye dog is stolen, his owner grieves. Max was not just a working dog, he was a beloved companion and in “Dogs”, his owner hires Amos Walker to find her boy. Walker immediately knows that it’s more than a Cave Canum case; this crime has gone to the dogs in more ways than one.

Though the stories in “Amos Walker: The Complete Story Collection” are set in modern times, you have to concentrate to keep that in mind. That’s because each short tale has the distinct feel of a flickery old black-and-white 1930s detective movie, and to fans of this genre, that’s irresistible.

Author Loren D. Estleman’s main character, Amos Walker, is a PI with a conscience, a man who gives money back to clients who pay too much, and who remembers his friends, even if they’re in prison. Walker isn’t flashy; he drives an old beater and lives in a flat he barely visits. He’s no womanizer, but he’s good with a gun, he’s got brains, and wow, I liked that.

Be aware that “Amos Walker: The Complete Story Collection” is, at 600 pages, a brick of a book. But if you’re a fan of detective novels, get this one and you’ve got the rest of this year all planned out.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Netters sweep Titans, Saxons

Of the Keizertimes

No matter what the cards hold for them as the rest of the season unfolds, the Lady Celts have met the challenges on the court this season thus far.

In the first month, the McNary varsity volleyball team has scraped and clawed in three matches with Sunset High School, a perennial powerhouse on the volleyball circuit.

The most recent clash occurred Saturday, Oct. 2, at a tournament in Oregon City. McNary lost to the team in consecutive sets, 26-24 and 25-19.

“We were just right there,” said Dustin Walker, McNary head coach. “A couple extra plays here and there and it could have gone the other way.”

Despite the loss, there were plenty of lessons, said Celt Keri Stein.

“It’s good because we’re playing against one of those top teams and it lets us know what we need to improve,” Stein said. “For us, it means limiting unforced errors and stopping when they get two or three points in a row.”

Early in the tournament, the Celts beat Wilson in two, split with Centennial, and beat Oregon City high schools. In the first round of bracket play, the Celts faced down Oregon City again.

“[Oregon City] is a good team and well-coached. To go out and win back-to-back was a huge lift for our team and real encouraging,” Walker said.

The team battled through a few moments of uncertainty, Stein said.

“We were working on a new rotation and it was shaky at first, but we worked through it,” she said.

Earlier in the week, McNary defeated in West Salem and South Salem, 3-0.

The Lady Celts were amped to hit the court against the Titans, said Kimberly Moisan, the varsity team’s sole freshman.

“We’d read some things with people saying they didn’t think we’d be able to beat them. We used that as a motivation and wiped them,” she said.

The Celts won 25-16, 25-6 and 25-17. Deven Hunter led in kills, 11, and blocks, 5.

Stein recorded 12 digs, Whittley Harrell chalked up four aces and Megan Holland had 22 assists. Madi Cavell recorded 10 kills, four blocks and three aces.

McNary followed that performance with an unbalanced win over South Salem High School, 25-19, 25-12 and 25-23.

“We underestimated them a bit and had some communication problems getting the ball where we needed to go,” Moisan said.

Cavell had nine kills, six aces, and three block. Simona Arnautov added four aces, Holland put up 18 assists and Harrell put in 22 digs. Hunter had two blocks.

Overall, the Lady Celts improved their record to 4-0 in league and 5-2 for the season.

They ain’t no pushovers

McNary’s Samantha Crook dodges tackles during practice for the Celtic Powder Puff football game slated for Wednesday, Oct. 13. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

There is no excuse for missing this year’s junior vs. senior powder puff football game, but for those still on the fence, here’s the best reason to show up: infectious smiles.

No other McNary football game this season is likely spawn so many smiles from the field to the stands. The girls’ attitudes and the good times are as contagious as any pandemic.

Tickets to the game Wednesday, Oct. 13, are $5 or $3 for students with a McNary ASB card. Kick off is 6:30 p.m. and proceeds benefit the McNary science department.

We asked some players why their team was going to win this year and this is what they had to say:

Beth Bellow, junior
The juniors because we have more athletes and, even though they’re bigger than us, we have the will to win.

Brittany Loving, senior
Seniors because even though they have more players, we’re more skilled.

Nikki Smith, junior
The juniors because we have a bigger team, we’re working harder and we’re going to dominate them.

Ariel Wilson, senior
The seniors are going to win because we’re better.

What’s in your water?

R. Walsh

Of the Keizertimes

Fluoride – and whether it should continue to be added to Keizer’s water supply – will be the topic of a Monday Keizer City Council work session.

It’s at 5:45 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11, at the Keizer Civic Center.

Councilor Richard Walsh is pushing the issue forward first because of money, safety second.

“Economically it’s questionable whether we should be paying for this in light of the benefits we receive,” Walsh said. “And the benefits we receive are questionable at best.”

The cost of adding fluoride to the city’s water system adds up to $48,067 in 2010, according to a staff report by Public Works Director Rob Kissler. In addition, upgrading all the city’s pump stations to add fluoride will cost a total of $57,618.

At the work session, councilors can choose whether to put the issue to a public hearing or formal consideration before the council.

Kissler said the practice – designed to reduce tooth decay – goes back to the Keizer Water District (KWD) days and an advisory vote in 1982 where residents recommended adding fluoride to the water.

It’s a polarizing issue: The Centers for Disease Control favors the practice, calling it one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century, along with vaccination and control of infectious diseases.

The CDC also states on its website that “recent studies demonstrate that decay rates in adults are also reduced as a result of fluoride in the drinking water.”

On the other side are those who say the practice either has minimal benefits, or can actually cause health problems, particularly with babies and people with thyroid problems. A 2006 Harvard study titled “Fluoride Exposure in Drinking Water and Osteosarcoma” drew connections between boys exposed to fluoride in drinking water and a rare bone cancer.

Walsh said he’s been interested in water safety since he’s been on council, but began questioning the wisdom of spending tens of thousands of dollars on the practice.

“At a time where we have reduced police officer positions and can’t fully fund our parks and can not even afford to give the library a few thousand dollars to operate, spending $80,000 per year on fluoridation seems unjustified, especially if Keizer intends to ask for a water rate increase next year,” Walsh said.

Walsh is bringing a Lake Oswego-based dentist who opposes water fluoridation. Jim Taylor, another city councilor, plans to bring several dentists who support the practice.

Taylor noted seeing less cavities in his children than he did with his own peers when he was growing up, and called fluoridating water “very economically sound, cheap health care,” particularly for lower-income households.

He also said he was “skeptical” of the connection drawn in the Harvard study between fluoride and cancer in boys.

Kissler said the practice is endorsed by the American Waterworks Association, but didn’t offer his own opinion.

Greg Kail, spokesperson for the association, said the group’s board has endorsed the practice since 1976, and follows recommendations from major health organizations.

“In our role, we provide information that helps water professionals add fluoride at the levels that meet public health recommendations,” Kail said.

He noted the city of Keizer adopted policies from the KWD, which chose to add fluoride to the water.

“Our previous policy setters chose to fluoridate the water, and I’m carrying out their wishes,” Kissler said.