The King of Cool returns with another thrilling tale of crime capers.
Arman 'The Blackbird' Degas is a professional hitman: one shot, one kill. But when he's carjacked by ex-con Richie Nix, he finds himself with a lethal partner.
Nix is on his way to shake down a realtor and the Blackbird is along for the ride. But they don't count on Carmen and Wayne Colson getting in their way. Exposed as eyewitnesses, the Colsons are placed in witness protection but soon discover the program contains as many predators as the underworld they're hiding from. But can they outrun the Blackbird...?
Crime fiction doesn't get any better than Leonard's new thriller, which, while it breaks no new ground, is a welcome retreat to his more direct style of classics such as 52 Pickup and Unknown Man #89 . When Carmen Colson and her ironworker husband Wayne stumble onto an extortion scheme run by Armand Degas, half Ojibway Indian, half French Canadian hit man, and his temporary partner Richie Nix, a talkative sociopath, the two killers set out to eliminate them, hiding out with Nix's girlfriend Donna, a former prison guard who collects stuffed animals and believes that Elvis is alive. In detailing the killers' relentless pursuit of the terrified couple, Leonard builds suspense with a deft, master hand, inducing an instant--and sustained--response of sweating hands and a racing heart. Even the most jaded reader will be swept along on the roller coaster of impending violence punctuated by heart-stopping crises. As always, Leonard writes with a natural ear for offbeat speech and a terrific sense of locale, moving the action from Toronto to Detroit and into Michigan and Ohio, telling the story almost totally through the thoughts and dialogue of the characters. In the Colsons, Leonard presents a more mature and realistic portrayal of a relationship than he has in the past, and he stirs up an uncomfortable fondness for the cruel but mellowing hit man Degas, all the while drawing the reader deeply into these ordinary lives. A bravura performance. Literary Guild dual main selection.