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The Hot Kid Mass Market Paperback – August 29, 2006
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“This is a novel that... is all about style, literary and otherwise.” (New York Times Book Review)
“THE HOT KID brims with the sly humor, sparse prose and razor dialogue we expect from the master” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
“The writing is pitch-perfect throughout...it’s all pure Leonard, and that means it’s pure terrific.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
Clear, fast-paced and masterfully structured.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“The HOT KID is Elmore Leonard- a master- at his best.” (Oklahoma City Oklahoman)
“...expertly crafted, deftly balanced.” (Houston Chronicle)
“...Rips along like a bandit’s getaway car...THE HOT KID is Leonard at his best.” (Tulsa World)
“...delivers the goods in a top-notch amalgam of sagebrush western and mob drama.” (Lexington Herald-Leader)
“There’s nothing Elmore Leonard doesn’t know about stylish writing, and THE HOT KID is him at his compressed best.” (Detroit Free Press)
“Wonderfully funny and hair-raising...THE HOT KID is splendid.” (Providence Sunday Journal)
About the Author
Elmore Leonard wrote more than forty books during his long career, including the bestsellers Raylan, Tishomingo Blues, Be Cool, Get Shorty, and Rum Punch, as well as the acclaimed collection When the Women Come Out to Dance, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty and Out of Sight. The short story "Fire in the Hole," and three books, including Raylan, were the basis for the FX hit show Justified. Leonard received the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He died in 2013.
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Such is the case with The Hot Kid. The title character is Carl Webster, son of Virgil Webster (from the earlier Leonard book, Cuba Libre. After killing a cattle thief as a teenager in 1920s Oklahoma, Carl is motivated to become a U.S. Marshal to capture fugitives. From the start, he is very good at his job, getting involved in dramatic shootouts and capturing notorious outlaws.
Paralleling Carl's life is Jack Belmont. Like Carl, Jack is a son of a wealthy man, but where Carl is essentially noble, Jack is a sociopath whose behavior is getting more and more erratic. His crimes will put the two of them on intertwining paths that can lead only to one place, a final showdown.
As is typical of a Leonard book, plot is almost secondary. What he is more interested in are characters and dialogue. Unlike some authors who seem to feel that every bit of conversation must be linked directly to the story, Leonard goes for something more realistic, using speech to reveal elements of the character. Also, as in most Leonard books, there are few master criminals; Belmont and the other crooks often bumble around; they're dangerous, but they're no geniuses. In other words, they're human.
I've always considered Elmore Leonard books to be a real treat, and The Hot Kid continues his own string of quality books. To read one of the true masters of the crime novel, you can't go wrong with Leonard in general or The Hot Kid specifically.
Mr. Leonard's latest novel is The Hot Kid, which is another winner for the writer who made Detroit more famous than the auto industry did. His newest endeavor takes place in the mid-west during the Twenties and early Thirties. The title of the book could refer to either Carlos (aka Carl) Webster, who grows up to be one of the top U.S. Marshals in Oklahoma, or to Jack Belmont, who comes from a rich family and wants to be just like John Dillinger--the country's greatest bank robber and Public Enemy Number One. Both men get set in their ways at an early age. Carl's only fifteen when he witnesses a robbery and killing at a local drugstore by an up-and-coming bank robber. A few months later, Carl has to shoot a rustler who's trying to steal his cows. Jack Belmont's only eighteen when he tries to unsuccessfully blackmail his millionaire father, threatening to tell his mother about dad's mistress. This isn't the first time Jack's been in trouble with his family, either. A few years earlier, he tried to kill his little sister in what was called a swimming pool accident. His father thought it was because the boy wasn't getting the attention he desired, but it was more than that. Though Jack's a talker and can be quite charming when he's in the mood, the guy's also a sociopath with no conscious about right or wrong. This will eventually lead Jack on a path of petty crime, until he finally works his way up to robbing banks and killing people. Carl Webster's the new kid on the block with the U.S. Marshals, but quickly making a name for himself as an officer of the law who won't pull his Colt .38, unless he intends to shoot to kill. This becomes Webster's motto after he kills several culprits. The newspapers and magazines write stories about him, making the young man famous as a quick-drawn, shoot-to-kill deputy Marshal. Of course, the paths of both Jack Belmont and Carl Webster are intertwined and eventually there will be a final showdown between the two young men. As a friend tells Belmont, "Carl Webster isn't the type of guy you can take in a face-to-face confrontation. You want to wait till he's asleep, then fill him full of lead." Unfortunately, Jack's never been one to take advice!
The Hot Kid is smooth reading with strong character development of all the main players. You'll find yourself living in the first half of the century for a short while, not to mention laughing at loud at some of the wild antics that go on between the different characters in the book. The women here are just as tough as the men when it comes to shooting and sex, and both of the lead male characters sure love the ladies. The thing with Jack Belmont is that you can't help but like him even though he's a cold-hearted murderer. That's what attracts the women to him. The guy does have charm. It's Carl Webster, however, who steals the show by always remaining calm and polite under the most stressful conditions, then shooting to kill like a sheriff out of the Old West. Few authors can put together a novel that's filled with so much fun as well as Elmore Leonard, and I always find it to be an extreme pleasure whenever a new book by him hits the market. I've been reading Leonard's fiction for over twenty years, and I hope to God he'll still be writing for at least another decade. In my opinion, Elmore Leonard is one of our country's national treasures and shouldn't be missed under any circumstances! Highly recommended.