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Day of Wrath (1982)
Jonathin Valin is one of the legitimate heirs of Ross MacDonald and detective Harry Stoner is very much in the mold of Lew Archer. Stoner rides the streets on Cincinnati in his Pinto, looking for runaways, armed with nothing but his righteous indignation and his Colt Gold Cup revolver.
Harry's been hired by Mildred Segal to find her 14 year old daughter, Robbie, who has run away from their placid suburban home. Harry, who grew up in just such a place, knows all too well why kids flee Eastlawn Drive & mothers like Mildred. But then, while looking for Robbie's boyfriend Booby Caldwell, he finds the boy's corpse & suddenly, Robbie's disappearance looks more ominous.
He backtracks the kids to a local guitar god/guru named Theo Clinger and a degenerate socialite, Irene Croft. But Croft is protected by a gangster, albeit a hyper-polite one, and Clinger has a Manson family style farm in Kentucky with armed guards. So getting Robbie back is not going to be easy.
Valin hits all the right notes here & with similes like this one,
the farm was "a fenced in field with a lumpy dirt access road cutting through
it like a keloid scar", you know you're in the hands of a pro.
See also:Private Eyes
If you like Harry Stoner, try: