Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Honey of a Diehl

Title: Up In Honey's Room
Author: Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard loves Detroit. When modern Detroit doesn't have the flair that he wants, he apparently goes historic.

Carl Webster comes to town looking for escaped German POWs. One of them frequently escaped the camp in Oklahoma City to visit his girlfriend in town, but this time has gone further afield. Carl's a big deal Marshall--the "hot kid" of the Marshalls' service, with a book written about his many exploits and heroic deeds, though he remains very likable and down-to-earth. Of the two Germans, one of them disappears, running off with an American Jewish girl who needs his help smuggling goods out of Europe. They are never heard form again. (That really bothered me--it's played like a major character and plot point until the third or fourth chapter, when he disappears forever)

To find the other, Carl connects with Honey Deal (no, really. That's her name. Honey Deal), the ex-wife of Walter Schoen, who is a dead ringer for Heinrich Himmler and believes himself to be his long-lost twin, with his own great destiny to fulfill in the service of the Fatherland. Carl thinks Walter is connected with a spy ring in Detroit and that he works on an underground railroad for German spies and POWs. He becomes more convinced when his car is shot up.

It's a good read, but I feel like Leonard is trying to channel James Patterson. Too much is ridiculous, and it doesn't feel like it was meant to be ridiculous. Honey is an even bigger tramp than I expected her to be, and while Walter provides some intentional comic relief, some of the otehr characters are just befuddling. The head of the spy ring, whose name eludes me, seems more like a Major Houlihan-Miss Haversham mix than Mata Hari, and her lover/houseboy, who is supposed to be a calculating killer, is more a slutty, bisexual, low-grade hitman. It feels like Leonard tried to give his secondary characters more depth and just muddied the puddles.

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posted by reyn at 4:58 PM


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