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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
There's no arguing that Elmore "Dutch" Leonard remains the coolest of the cool in the arena of humorous crime writing. Earlier in his career, Leonard wrote more realistic and much darker cop 'n' killer fiction before he found his hipster streak and mined it like no one else before or since. His crackling dialogue snaps like jazzy blues riffs, and his signature ultra-lean style and droll wit have set the bar by which all such novels are measured.
With Tishomingo Blues Leonard has managed to raise the bar once again. Here's the story of Dennis Lenahan, a world-class high-diving champ now working his act at carnivals and amusement parks. When he approaches Billy Darwin, a Mississippi casino mogul, and proposes to perform his dives from 80 feet above Darwin's hotel, he enters a world of hipster criminals and amiable con men. Dennis's new assistant, who helps set up the rigging, is barely around for a day before two members of the Dixie Mafia come along and put five in the back of his head while Dennis is at the top of the platform. Although he knows enough to keep his mouth shut, Dennis is quickly drawn into a world where the South still battles the North and every grinning face disguises a secret agenda. With a climax that takes place during a Civil War reenactment, the novel is somewhat reminiscent of Peter Abrahams's wonderful Last of the Dixie Heroes.
Although Leonard's breakneck pace and complex plotting are top-notch, everyone knows that it's his bizarre cast of characters and laugh-out-loud dialogue that make his novels such a treat. Weird and lovable criminals (even the hit men are so outrageous you grow fond of them), thugs, miscreants, fallen celebrities, and wealthy deviants all populate the story and bring it to delightfully crazy life. (Tom Piccirilli)