by Sukey HowardJuly, 2005
Elmore Leonard's latest, The Hot Kid, is set in the 1930s: the Depression is raging, booze is verboten and desperadoes like Pretty Boy Floyd are dazzling the masses. Into this roiling stew of gangsters and gun molls, speakeasies and shootouts, comes cool, couth Carl Webster, a rising star in the Tulsa U.S. Marshals Service, whose calling card is if I have to pull my weapon I'll shoot to kill, and who wants and gets more than his 15 minutes of fame. Though it's a departure in time and place, Elmore is in his element, the dialogue is perfect as is Arliss Howard's gently twanging performance of it and the supporting characters on the mark, including the curvy redhead Carl's nuts about, a wannabe big-time bank robber whose aim is fame, not gain, and a writer for True Detective whose intensely purple prose makes celebrities of them all. An A-plus for Elmore; nobody does it better.