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Book review: “The Hot Kid” by Elmore Leonard kidThere is, in a meandering way, a story here. But Elmore Leonard’s The Hot Kid isn’t really about story. Like all his other stuff, it’s about people.

In this case, it’s people revolving around the youthful U.S. Marshall Carlos (Carl) Webster, the “hot kid” of the title, who has gained renown by tracking down violent miscreants and taking them in — or, more usually, taking them down, outdrawing them.

Here are some descriptions of characters, and one place, and one politician, from the book. If you find them interesting, then you’ll like this book. If not, you might want to pick up a sense of humor somewhere.


Virgil and Narcissa

Virgil Webster was forty-seven years old, a widower since Garciaplena died in ought-six giving him Carlos and requiring Virgil to look for a woman to nurse the child. He found Narcissa Raincrow, sixteen, a pretty little Creek girl related to Johnson Raincrow, deceased, an outlaw so threatening that peace officers shot him while he was sleeping. Narcissa had lost her own child giving birth, wasn’t married, and Virgil hired her on as a wet nurse. By the time little Carlos had lost interest in her breasts. Virgil had acquired an appreciation.


Union Station

“I came in to the Union Station,” Carl said. “That’s the biggest place I’ve ever been in, like a cathedral only bigger. They got a Harvey’s, a bookshop, a waiting room just for women…What I don’t understand, the ceiling in the lobby must be a hundred feet high. What good’s all that space?”


The former President of the United States

Narcissa sat down at the table and listened to [Virgil and Carl] talk about Franklin Roosevelt winning the presidential election, happy that he’d skunked that constipated Herbert Hoover.


Nestor Lott, the defrocked federal agent — I

Nestor Lott wore two .45 automatics, military issue, one holstered on each hip and snugged to his legs with leather thongs. Tony {the True Detective writer] wrote in his notebook: “He is a man of small stature, no more than five-three who stares with a look of intensity to his cold gray eyes that holds one’s attention…”


Nestor Lott, the defrocked federal agent — II

“Nestor — Nestor was spooky. He was so serious about being stupid.”


Doris Belmont, the banker’s wife and the mother of would-be Public Enemy Number One, Jack

“You know what I have under this cushion? A thirty-two caliber pistol.” She wiggled her fanny to show Carl where it was. “He comes up those stairs and walks in here to kiss me on the cheek? I’m gonna shoot him and watch him bleed on the carpet.”


Louly Brown to Carl

“I don’t want you getting shot on my account.”

“What? ‘Cause we’re pards? Who’re you, Tom Mix?”

“You jerk, we’re the same as married. When we’re apart I miss you ‘cause I love you so much. Honey, I love even to look at you when you don’t know it. If we’re gonna be apart all the time I may as well become a nun. I’ll even turn Catholic and my stepfather Mr. Hagenbocker will see if he can get me burned at the stake. Carl, I have to be with you. That’s all there is to it.”

Patrick T. Reardon

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