This book would probably not have been my own choice, but was selected for one of my book groups, by my very lovely friend Nicola as Elmore Leonard had died recently and none of us had read anything by him.
The plot is a pretty standard cops and robbers tale, set in Prohibition-era Oklahoma. After witnessing a notorious bank robber hold up a drug store and shoot a local Indian cop as a teenager, Carl (os) Webster becomes a US Marshal and quickly earns fame for his “If I draw my weapon I will shoot you” line. The story mainly revolves around him trying to chase down a wannabe gangster Jack Belmont, son of an oil millionaire, and his relationship with an ex-/ wannabe gun moll Louly.
Its a pretty slick story, lots of sharp dialogue and appropriate colour about speakeasies, news stories about Dillinger or Bonny and Clyde and allusions to the Depression and the Dust Bowl thrown in. The characters are good, if a little stereotypical, and it is fairly riveting stuff. The only thing that annoyed me was the tendency to switch from past to present tense, I guess to mimic the style of speech but it was still infuriating. A good quick read, I would definitely pick some more of Leonard’s up if I saw them in the library or second hand, perhaps for holidays.