Take a high diver who witnesses a murder from his perch 80 feet above a Mississippi casino. Add a cooler-than-thou con artist from Detroit who's out to take over the Dixie mafia's lucrative Gulf Coast drug business. Throw in a crooked deputy sheriff and an honest state cop. Put them all in costume along with a bunch of other "reenactors" bent on refighting an important Civil War battle, season with plenty of historic detail, and you've got all the classic ingredients of an Elmore Leonard novel--except for drama, suspense, or mystery, that is. This is a rib-tickler in the Carl Hiaasen/Dave Barry tradition rather than the kind of thriller Leonard wrote before Hollywood discovered him. As the author himself explains, his intent was to entertain himself by gathering an odd assortment of characters, building a story as they bump heads, and seeing what happens. And as usual, he carries it off with style, wit, and brio. Readers will be casting the inevitable movie in their heads (Samuel L. Jackson is a lock for Robert, who glides into town in a flashy Jag and gets the action going) as they chuckle their way to the last hilarious page. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
On the advance reading copy of this novel sent to PW, the title appears in blue letters half an inch high. Leonard's name floats above the title in red letters a full inch high. A Leonard novel is an event, and for good reason. Over the past 40 years, this writer has evolved into the undisputed champ of the American crime novel, and he hasn't lost a step. His new (and 37th) novel is one of his smoothest, a return to the South of Out of Sight (1996) and numerous earlier Leonards though this is the author's first foray into deep country Mississippi, birthplace of the blues. Men and women who scrape at the margins of the American dream are Leonard's forte, and here he presents several such folk, all memorable, beginning with his hero, Dennis Lenahan, a high diver who contracts for a gig to perform at the Tishomingo Lodge & Casino. While setting up his rig, Dennis witnesses a murder by local members of the Dixie Mafia. So, perhaps, does a mysterious, very slick black guy, Robert Johnson, down from the North in his Jag to run a con on a local powerbroker or so it seems. But Robert, who befriends Dennis, and the Detroit mobster and moll who join him at the Lodge & Casino, have other, more complicated, more ambitious plans, for Tishomingo, for the Dixie Mafia and for Dennis, plans that come to a head during the Civil War battle re-enactment that provides the unusual and fascinating backdrop for the book's second half. As usual, Leonard's characters walk onto the page as real as sunlight and shadow; the dialogue is dead-on, the loopy story line strewn with the unexpected, including sudden flourishes of romance and death. Prime Leonard, prime reading. (Feb. 1)Forecast: Backed by a $250,000 marketing campaign and Leonard's ever-soaring rep, this title, his first with Morrow, could be his biggest seller yet, buoyed by a seven-city author tour and simultaneous HarperAudio (abridged and unabridged cassette) and HarperLargePrint editions.
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