HarperTorch, 2002 (2002)
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Reviewed by Wesley Williamson
lmore Leonard is the author of thirty seven novels, both mystery and western, many of which have been made into successful movies. To achieve that may only mean a good ear for pungent dialogue, and a selective eye for a memorable scenario. In Leonard's case, he offers these and a good deal more. His plots are excruciatingly complex, he tells his stories with wit and humour, and he serves up a variety of fascinating characters.
n this case the plot hinges on, of all things, a high diver, Dennis Lenehan. He would tell people that '
if you put a fifty cent piece on the floor and looked down on it, that's what the tank looked like from the top of that eighty-foot steel ladder
'. He was looking down that day from the high-dive platform when he saw a murder, a Dixie mob hit; unfortunately the killers looked up and saw him too, which made his continued appearance as a popular attraction at the Tishomingo Lodge and Casino at Tunica, Mississipi, somewhat doubtful.
atters are complicated by a second witness, Robert Taylor from Detroit, who rides the Mississipi roads in his black Jaguar, showing a picture of his great-granddaddy's lynching in the neighbourhood, and giving just a glimpse of the lethal weapon also in his briefcase. They become even more complicated when Robert's boss arrives to play Ulysses S. Grant in a Civil War battle reenactment, in which some of the Dixie Mafia have important roles. But Robert would like to simplify matters by taking over the Dixie mafia, and his boss's wife, preferably with Dennis's help.
ot perhaps in the very top ranks of Leonard's novels, but well up there among the good ones. He has caught the rhythms of the South, the plot is as tortuous as ever, and the characters, not only Lenehan and Taylor but many minor characters as well, are drawn with a sure hand. Excellent entertainment.
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