The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I seem to have a roller coaster relationship with Elmore Leonard's books. I found "Get Shorty" incredibly boring, then I liked "Mr. Paradise" a lot, and reviewed it here. Now -- solely through my superhuman patience and boundless optimism that the author will eventually write something interesting -- I have managed to finish "The Hot Kid".
Many readers may like the book; it has plenty of action, well-described shootings, and heavily macho characters who are bent on displaying how cool they are. The action takes place in the early 1930s, mainly in Oklahoma. Carl Webster, the "Hot Kid", is a rising star of US Marshals Service, a great and lucky shot, always in pursuit of wanted felons and fugitives. Jack Belmont, a sociopath, son of a rich oilman, desperately wants to become a famous bank robber, like John Dillinger or Pretty Boy Floyd. Tony Antonelli, a journalist, constantly hunts for first-hand stories of the killings. Young women, awed by the gangsters' and marshals' exploits, gravitate to the men and try to bask in their glory.
The novel is full of male games of domination; the kills are scrupulously counted and momentous phrases are uttered before shootings commence. Mr. Leonard's prose reads well, yet the only fragment of the novel that in any way resembles literature begins on page 160, and presents Carl's conversation with Jacks' mother.
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