Although Leonard bestowed this book with a great title and two of his more memorable characters, he does none of them justice in this rather aimless story. Like much of his work, this is a quick-moving piece set in South Florida, and features a full parade of small-time criminals, cops, one or two truly nasty folks, and a wide array of curious characters who spout crackling dialogue. The catalyst for the action is hanging judge "Maximum" Bob Gibbs (who is said to resemble Harry Dean Stanton), a racist, sexist, philandering, cracker, caricature of a fella' who doesn't mind speaking his mind. Of course, this gets people mad at him, most notably recent sentencee Dale Crowe Jr. and his ex-con Uncle Elvin, recently returned from 15 years for killing a man. They plot to off him, with the assistance of a drug-addled doctor under house arrest, and his mincing "houseboy." All these folks are also in the orbit of the real protagonist, parole officer Kathy Baker and her love interest, cop Gary. Kathy is one of most engaging of Leonard's female leads, but her job sort of restricts her ability to influence events. So, enter Gary, a cool, low key hero type, who has the power to move events along, but also somehow manages to bore one to death. It all meanders along in Leonard's typical farcical fashion until a somewhat discordant murder or two heralds the beginning of the end. It's a rather mundane and anticlimactic conclusion for a Leonard novel, and one wonders if he just got bored by it. Another weakness is the judge's wife, a new-agey type who is sometimes possessed by the spirit of a young black slave girl, but whose interludes serve only to break the flow of things. There's also the houseboy, Hector, whose oddity is mentioned repeatedly by several characters, but never explained or explored. It's not awful, but it's not as crisp as most of his work, hopefully he'll bring Kathy back for a more fully realized adventure in the future.