BookBrowse Reviews The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard

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The Hot Kid

by Elmore Leonard

The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard X
The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard
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  • First Published:
    May 2005, 312 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2006, 416 pages

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Elmore Leonard is our Prospero, a magician who has given us inspired fun for 50 years. Thriller

From the book jacket: 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.....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.

Comment: In his 80th year, with at least 40 novels and a slew of short stories behind him, Elmore Leonard  breaks new ground with a prohibition-era crime tale set in Oklahoma (where Leonard spent his own childhood) told from multiple perspectives.  There's the original hot-kid Carl Webster ("If I have to pull my weapon I'll shoot to kill.") - a part-Cuban, part-Indian US Marshall, who got his first taste of meting out justice when just 15; and then there are the others who would like to think of themselves as hot kids - Jack Belmont who's career goal is to be one of America's most feared criminals, ex-moll Louly Brown who has her sights set on Carl, and Tony Antonelli, a true crime reporter for True Detective Magazine, who can spin the most casual of gunfights into something heroic.

Overall, the reviewers love Leonard's latest, with minor nitpicks from a handful (characters are flat, there's too much violence and it's not clear which characters are fictional and which real). 

"If there's anything that keeps The Hot Kid from catching fire, it might be that the Hot Kid is a little too hot. Sure, this is all about mythmaking, but if Webster's socks smelled more of clay, he'd be on more equal footing with the bad guys, making the conclusion a bit less foregone. Still, a terrific pleasure." - Booklist.

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 Washington Post - Patrick Anderson.

This review was originally published in June 2005, and has been updated for the September 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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