The Hot Kid
by: Elmore Leonard
Published by: Harper Torch
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Reviewed by Jeff Foster
In the early 1920s, an age when bank robbers and desperate men were the heroes of their time, Carlos Webster was a 15-year-old boy living with his father on a quasi pecan farm/cattle ranch in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.
John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, and Bonnie and Clyde were the well-known public enemies to J. Edgar Hoover's new FBI, but Emmet Long was a local product and well-known to local law enforcement in Oklahoma. In a chance encounter, Carlos Webster finds himself face to face and the solitary witness to a cold-blooded murder committed by Long.
A few days later, hardened by the event, Webster soon finds himself confronted by cattle rustlers on his father property.
The inception of the legend begins when Carl Webster warns the man preparing to load his father's stock into a wagon, to leave--and he won't get hurt. The rustler calls Carl's bluff and Carl shoots him dead.
When he comes of age, Webster joins the U.S. Marshall's service. Shortly after his accepting his badge, he once again finds himself in a tense confrontation with the Emmet Long. When Long ponders taking on the young marshall, Webster issues his soon-to-be famous warning, "If I have to draw my weapon, I will shoot to kill."
Jack Belmont is the son of a wealthy local oilman, who narcissistic behavior and desire to become a bank robber, puts him on a collision course with Marshall Webster.
Both men are followed by a reporter from True Detective magazine, who is hungry to print the daring deeds of reputable lawman and the increasingly notorious outlaw in their various encounters.
The Hot Kid is all guts and very little glamour. It tells the story of real men and women trying to subsist in the Depression-era dust bowl of Oklahoma and Missouri, at time in our history where the line between good and evil was nearly translucent. Elmore Leonard's character development is masterful, the dialogue is real and the action will entice you turn pages faster than your eyes can read.
Armchair Interviews says: The Hot Kid is will be another in a long list of timeless classics from an author that has given us everything from westerns to modern crime.
From our armchair to yours...