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The Hot Kid

by Elmore Leonard

      When I think of an Elmore Leonard novel I envision Detroit or Miami but The Hot Kid sees his action in, of all places, Oklahoma. Itís not just the location thatís unusual, the era is the 1930s.

Carlos Webster, son of a half-breed father and Cuban mother is just a fifteen-year-old kid when he encounters Emmet Long, a well known bank robber who steals his ice cream cone and then guns down a cop right in front of him. A few short weeks later Carlos is more prepared when he catches a thief stealing the family cows. When the smoke clears the cattle rustler is dead. and Carlos has the first of many notches in his gun.

By the time heís twenty-one Carlos has shed the Latin name and become Carl Webster - United States Marshal. Carl sometimes comes across as being overly cocky in his Panama hat, but repeatedly facing death with nary a flinch grants him certain license in that area. Carl seems to seek out the most dangerous assignments and delights in mingling with the gun molls and hoodlums while chasing his prey.

Carl eventually catches up to ice cream cone thief and murderer Emmet Long, and this time the results are quite different.

In his travels Carl continually crosses paths with a young man named Jack Belmont. Jack is a particularly bad apple. Born into money, he shuns his family wealth in favor of the more adventurous life of a bank robber. When Carl arrests him and Jack is sentenced to hard prison time, Jack swears revenge and escapes from prison to hunt down his nemesis. The chase is exciting with both men maneuvering for the advantage while taunting and challenging one another.

The time and place may be different but the story is pure "Dutch" Leonard.

The Book

Harper Torch
September 2006
Mass Market Paperback
Mystery & Detective - Historical - 1930s
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The Reviewer

Dennis Collins
Reviewed 2006
NOTE: Reviewer Dennis Collins is the author of The Unreal McCoy.
© 2006