Monday, December 21, 2009

The Hot Kid

Elmore Leonard is a writer after my own heart.  He started with westerns and then turned to crime fiction, becoming one of the best selling crime fiction writers of all time.  When I saw the audio book, The Hot Kid on the library shelves this time, I just couldn't pass it up because I knew I'd be in for a treat.  I also needed a relatively short book this time so I could complete it before the end of the year.  It was so good though that I made excuses to go driving just so I could hear more of this story, lol.

The Hot Kid is Mr Leonard's 40th or 42nd book (I've seen references to both) and was published in 2005.  Boy, he sure hasn't slacked off.  I would guess he is probably best known for good guy characters that are right on the edge of being not-so-good.  Many people seem to like the movies that have been made from his books like "Get Shorty," and "Out of Sight" but I didn't care for them nearly as much as the novels themselves.  (Although I did like "3:10 to Yuma" in it's latest incarnation, adapted from his short story written in 1953). Here, he turns back the clock just a little and sets this novel in Oklahoma during the 1930's mobster era.  Right away that sounds like an unusual setting.  As always, his characters use dead-pan humor consistently, winning the reader over with their charm, whatever their ultimate intentions may be. 

The plot deals with two men at opposing ends of the law-abiding spectrum.  Jack Belmont is the son of a Tulsa oil wildcatter and pulls every dirty trick in the book to blackmail and extort money from his own father.  From there he goes on to organized crime and strives to rival Pretty Boy Floyd in evilness. Going up against him is a deputy US Marshall, Carl Webster, who has gained a reputation as a fearless lawman after killing several notorious mobsters.  Their confrontation is classic and truely a delight to read.  For a shorter novel, the characters are remarkably well developed and the plot was not predicatable in the least; just the ticket for a drive-time audio book.  I especially enjoyed the way Mr Leonard included the young adulthood of both characters and showed how they came to be the way they are.  If you haven't read Elmore Leonard in the past, it's never too late to start.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire