Vintage Elmore Leonard - a searing tale of gambling, gangsters, hidden agendas and a whole heap of trouble from the virtuoso of American crime fiction.
Daredevil Dennis Lenahan has brought his act to the Tishomingo Lodge & Casino in Tunica, Mississippi - diving off an eighty-foot ladder into nine feet of water for the amusement of gamblers, gangsters, and luscious belles. His riskiest feat, however, was witnessing a Dixie-style mob execution while atop his diving platform.
Robert Taylor saw the hit also. A blues-loving Detroit hustler touring the Southland, Taylor's got his own secret agenda and he wants Dennis in on the game. And high-diver Dennis could be about to take a long, fatal fall - right into a mess of hoop skirts, Civil War play-acting... and more trouble than he ever dreamed possible.
A tinted review in adult Forecasts indicates a book that's of exceptional importance to our readers, but that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.TISHOMINGO BLUESElmore Leonard. Morrow, (320p) 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.