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    Review of UP IN HONEY'S ROOM by Elmore Leonard

    William Morrow, May 2007

    World War II is winding down, but Deputy US Marshal Carl Webster still has to do his job tracking down a pair of escaped German prisoners of war. He follows the two from Oklahoma to Detroit where a mostly hapless German spy ring has taken in the POWs. But the spies aren't just interested in protecting prisoners, they're more interested in what will happen to them when the war finally ends and their value to either side vanishes.

    FBI agent Kevin Dean introduces himself to Honey Deal, ex-wife of German immigrant Walter Schoen (who believes himself to be Heinrich Himmler's twin, separated at birth), and then introduces her to Carl. Carl and Honey search for the German POWs (believed to be hiding with Walter) while Carl attempts to resist the incredible fascination he feels for Honey (thinking about his wife, who teaches marines how to use machine guns and who has shot two men dead helps, but just a little). As they sense the famous US Marshal after them, the spy ring Walter is part of begins to self-destruct.

    Author Elmore Leonard (see more reviews of novels by Leonard) continues the story of Carl Webster he began in THE HOT KID (see our review). Leonard's laconic descriptions of murder, his picture of the American home front, the widespread knowledge that the German spies can really do nothing to harm the war effort or help Germany (shared by the spies themselves and the FBI), and especially the two women who drive this story--Honey Deal and spymistress Vera Mezwa--enhance our enjoyment of the story.

    UP IN HONEY'S ROOM is really about people, about manhood, and about how we negotiate with ourselves more than it is about tracking down spies and escaped POWs. Leonard offers us a hero who is a stone killer, completely indifferent to the men he's shot, spies who are similarly without morals, and a pair of women who use their sex to control those around them. He also slows down the pacing, compared to some of his other works--this isn't really a novel about things happening, but about an era. It should be unpleasant, but Leonard's strong writing and his ability to bring both characters and a long-ago moment in history to life kept me reading and enjoying.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 6/30/07

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