Friday, July 16, 2010

The Hot Kid

By Elmore Leonard

Set in the 1930's, this is a story about US Marshal Carlos 'Carl' Webster and his run in with several notorious criminals, most especially, spoiled son of an oil millionaire, Jack Belmont. Carl is a cool young man, cocky even. Unafraid of gun fire, he operates on a suave understanding of the criminals he likes to hunt. Jack by comparison, flying by the seat of his pants, is simply out to be Public Enemy Nr 1.

Shadowing Carl and his opponents is journalist Tony Antonelli whose words in True Detective magazine bring fame and attention. Neither Carl or Jack is averse to the flattering awe of the public however and with time the journalist becomes a useful means to an end.

Leonard is something is a star author, and his novels having been used to make several movies I understand, notably, 'Jackie Brown' (the only Tarantino film I liked). Reading, I was struck by how easily the novel could be translated to cinema. There is a lot of easy to read dialogue and the story is both brusque and well written. Plot wise this is about as far from Ellroy as its possible to get and both authors, is anyone bigger in modern American crime fiction? make a great set of book ends for the genre.

I liked the characters and the way the story was written, but he book felt too short and the story was quite simple. On the whole it was entertaining but I wished Leonard had done more with it.

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