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Set in the waning days of WWII, bestseller Leonard's disappointing 40th novel finds gunslinging U.S. marshal Carl Webster, introduced in 2005's The Hot Kid, on the trail of Jurgen Schrenk and Otto Penzler, German POWs escaped from their Okmulgee, Okla., detention camp. The pair wind up in Detroit in the care of Walter Schoen, a butcher and Himmler look-alike, with whose ex-wife, wisecracking bottle-blonde Honey Deal, Carl soon finds himself smitten. While married Carl contemplates breaking his marriage vows (Honey does anything but dissuade him), Otto disappears and a dysfunctional German spy ring—led by hard-drinking Vera Mezwa and her cross-dressing manservant, Bohdan—cozies up with Jurgen. Vera and Bohdan, meanwhile, are secretly planning to disappear, but Bohdan wants to put in the ground anyone who could later give them up to the Feds. Leonard's writing—line by line—is as sharp as ever, but the plotting is uncharacteristically clunky and the pacing is stuck in low gear. Leonard has written a lot of great books, but this isn't one of them. (May)
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*Starred Review* Leonard doesn't write series novels, but every now and then, he brings back a favorite character, much to his fans ' delight. Here we're treated to the return of Carl Webster, the mythic marshal who starred in The Hot Kid (2005). It's the waning months of World War II, and Carl, no longer on the trail of Dust Bowl bank robbers, is tracking down a couple of escaped German POWs. The trail leads to Detroit, where it appears the POWs, Jurgen and Otto, are being hidden by a German-born butcher, Walter Shoen, who just happens to look exactly like Heinrich Himmler. Also involved are Walter's ex-wife, Honey Deal, who has no time for a bunch of Nazis who don't laugh at her jokes, and Vera Mezwa, a real-life German spy with a taste for the finer things, including her houseboy, the faux transvestite Bohdan. The happily married marshal hopes to use Honey as a way of getting at the Nazis through Walter, but his legendary single-mindedness takes a jolt when Honey starts to flirt. This being a Leonard novel, the dialogue flows as fast and as smooth as any words ever uttered in service of a story. It's as if the best of Mel Brooks and Quentin Tarantino were refined into something altogether finer and purer. And, in Honey Deal, Leonard has created yet another of his smart, ballsy, sexy, take-no-prisoners females. If there is a little more slapstick and a little less crime here than usual, it hardly matters. The talk's the thing. Leonard hooks you with his first quotation mark. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.