Summary and book reviews of The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard

The Hot Kid

By Elmore Leonard

The Hot Kid
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  • Hardcover: May 2005,
    312 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2006,
    416 pages.

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Book Summary

Carl Webster, the hot kid of the marshals service, is polite, respects his elders, and can shoot a man driving away in an Essex at four hundred yards. Carl works out of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, federal courthouse during the 1930s, the period of America's most notorious bank robbers: Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson -- those guys.

Carl wants to be America's most famous lawman. He shot his first felon when he was fifteen years old. With a Winchester.

Louly Brown loves Carl but wants the world to think she is Pretty Boy Floyd's girlfriend.

Tony Antonelli of True Detective magazine wants to write like Richard Harding Davis and wishes cute little Elodie wasn't a whore. She and Heidi and the girls work at Teddy's in Kansas City, where anything goes and the girls wear -- what else -- teddies.

Jack Belmont wants to rob banks, become public enemy number one, and show his dad, an oil millionaire, he can make it on his own.

With tommy guns, hot cars, speakeasies, cops and robbers, and a former lawman who believes in vigilante justice, all played out against the flapper period of gun molls and Prohibition, The Hot Kid is Elmore Leonard -- a true master -- at his best.

Chapter One

Carlos Webster was fifteen the day he witnessed the robbery and killing at Deering's drugstore. This was in the fall of 1921 in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

He told Bud Maddox, the Okmulgee chief of police, he had driven a load of cows up to the yard at Tulsa and by the time he got back it was dark. He said he left the truck and stock trailer across the street from Deering's and went inside to get an ice cream cone. When he identified one of the robbers as Emmett Long, Bud Maddox said, "Son, Emmett Long robs banks, he don't bother with drugstores no more."

Carlos had been raised on hard work and respect for his elders. He said, "I could be wrong," knowing he wasn't.

They brought him over to police headquarters in the courthouse to look at photos. He pointed to Emmett Long staring at him from a $500 wanted bulletin and picked the other one, Jim Ray Monks, from mug shots. Bud Maddox said, "You're positive, huh?...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Booklist - Keif Graff

As always, Leonard's prose seems effortless, his dialogue is perfect, and his humor is as dry as a moonshine martini. If there's anything that keeps The Hot Kid from catching fire, it might be that the Hot Kid is a little too hot....Still, a terrific pleasure.

Library Journal - Thomas L Kilpatrick

Leonard's encyclopedic knowledge of crime history and wry humor make his novels reading experiences to savor. His latest is no exception.

Kirkus Reviews

...The whole sepia-toned caravan, infact, is so relaxed that even the most violent felonies may leave you smiling. Leonard's gentle epic is as restorative as a month in the country.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set in the world of 1930s gangsters and gun molls, features characterizations so deft and true you can smell the hair oil on the dudes and the perfume on the dames.....it's all pure Leonard, and that means it's pure terrific.

The Washington Post - Patrick Anderson

Elmore Leonard is our Prospero, a magician who has given us inspired fun for 50 years. He floats above the action, amused; his motto is surely Puck's "What fools these mortals be." In The Hot Kid, Oklahoma is his version of Shakespeare's enchanted isle in "The Tempest," a brave new world where maids and monsters, outlaws and oilmen, strange creatures all, act out their dubious destinies.

The New York Times Book Review - Charles McGrath

There's a little irony here, of which Leonard is surely not unaware: he, the novelist, has written a sparer, more faithful account than we can expect from Tony Antonelli, the true-crime journalist. And yet The Hot Kid is not unsympathetic to Tony or to the pulp- magazine impulse -- no surprise when we remember that Leonard got his start writing for magazines like Argosy, Dime Western and Zane Grey.

Reader Reviews
Bruce 10/11

From one Libra to another
The Hot Kid is another excellent book from an excellent writer (whom I say humbly, shares my date of birth) and the main character is very interesting. As a young man he has an encounter with a thief that changes the course of his life. I especially...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Elmore Leonard became interested in writing in 1935, after reading a serialization of All Quiet on the Western Front in the Detroit Times. Touched by the story, he wrote a play based on the novel for his fifth-grade classroom, using the desks as "No-Man's-Land." In 1951 Argosy magazine published his short story "Trail of the Apache." Other stories—all westerns—followed. In 1953 he published his first novel, The Bounty Hunters, followed by four more over the next eight years. Between 1951 and 1961 ...

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