The reason this works so well for Leonard is that it lets him write to two of his great strengths. First, of course, is the world of criminals and cops. His criminals are always incredibly well drawn and always very distinct and three-dimensional. I have never read it anywhere, but I would guess that Quentin Tarantino must have been a big Leonard fan in his developmental years. His screen killers bear the hallmarks of Leonard characters; i.e. impassioned conversations about everyday things (like the two hit men in Pulp Fiction discussing McDonald's Big Macs) while dwelling in the sub-culture of crime and violence.
The second and less-commented-on strength Leonard has is the ability to portray the tugs and pulls of a male/female relationship with such effortless accuracy. In the interplay of the novel's husband and wife team, the subtle, aggravating, thrilling differences between man and woman are expertly rendered with a few classic, Leonard strokes. Also, Leonard is also the master at local color and authentic detail. His research and detail always has the feel of easy, unforced truth.
But let's face it; crime is what makes Leonard tick - the deal, the scam - and the men and women licking their chops over money and guns. It is certainly all here in this book. Here, it's an extortion scheme combining the efforts of an aging, nearly burned out hit man (Armand Degas) and a clever, hyperactive sociopath (Richie Nix). As always, Leonard develops his characters with subtle, concise power. Nix slowly becomes a truly frightening, dangerous character,
My favorite element of the book is Leonard's portrait of the half Ojibwa, half Canadian hit man, Armand Degas. In a way, the book is his somehow his story. From the beginning, he seems vaguely aware that his end is coming. Leonard's portrayal of this tiring man of violence lends certain poignancy to this character that stays with the reader.
All in all, classic Leonard - meaning a work that will keep you turning pages in effortless joy.