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    Review of THE HOT KID by Elmore Leonard (see his website)

    William Morrow, May 2005

    Carlos (Carl) Webster sees his first murder at fifteen. A year later, he kills his first man--a cattle rustler trying to steal his herd. When he turns eighteen, he joins the marshall's service. Carl gains a reputation as a man who keeps his cool, but who shoots to kill. Jack Belmont is just a bad guy. When he was a kid, he let his sister nearly drown. Later, he tried to blackmail his father, kidnapped his father's girlfriend, and blew up one of his father's oil storage tanks. Louly Brown had a crush on Pretty Boy Floyd, but he never paid much attention to her. Her brief career as a gun moll doesn't last long when the police, led by Carl Webster, track down the man she's running with.

    Set in prohibition America and the depression, THE HOT KID explores a period of American history when Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, and Pretty Boy Floyd were active, when gangsters were romantic, and when mobs ruled cities. Author Elmore Leonard (see more reviews of novels by Leonard) spins a deceptively involving story about men who don't say much, who live larger than life, and who keep their cool.

    In Leonard's stories, no one is completely good and conventional morality is badly bent. While no one is good, there are those who are completely bad. It is a compelling and disturbing world. Leonard ups the emotional intensity as Jack increasingly disorganizes in his attempt to carve out a place for himself in a world where criminals glory in becoming America's Most Wanted.

    Warning: THE HOT KID is hard to put down. I sat down to read it and pretty much didn't do anything else all day.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 5/21/05

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