We hope you enjoy this book review by Douglas R. Cobb.

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Escaped Nazis. Spy rings. A transvestite who slit the throats of three SS prison guards to gain his freedom. A Heinrich Himmler look-a-like who wants to assassinate President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A luscious blonde named Honey Deal. The return of the U.S. Marshal, Carl Webster, or the "Hot Kid," involved in famous gunfights with notorious gangsters. These are just a few of the memorable characters who inhabit Elmore Leonard’s brilliant and exciting novel Up In Honey’s Room. At the age of eighty-one, Leonard doesn’t seem to be getting any older, only better, like a fine wine.

Why would a beautiful blonde with legs that won’t stop want to marry a German American who could pass for the double of Himmler, one of the most notorious Nazis who ever lived (as well as being possibly the most boring man on Earth)? Ask her, as Carl Webster and other do in this novel, and Honey’d be hard pressed to give a definitive answer. She’s part German herself, her last name, originally Diehl, was Anglacized to Deal when her relatives entered America, as so many other immigrants’ names were. Perhaps it was where they first met, in front of a Catholic church, that intrigued her about Walter Schoen; or, that he seemed pitiful and alone in the world; who knows? What makes her a genuinely exciting and memorable character, however, is not just her beauty, but that she possesses quite a bit of wit and intelligence, and she can tell a funny joke with the best of them - though her ex-husband never seems to get them.

Their marriage only lasts approximately a year, because she finally realized the type of man she’d married, one who idolized Heinrich Himmler. He would always speak of what a coincidence it was that they were both born the exact same year and day in the exact same hospital. Walter feels that, when compared to his idol, he hasn’t done much to help the Nazi cause. This eventually leads him into hiding two escaped Nazis, Jurgen and Otto, from an Oklahoma prisoner of war camp which houses prisoners from Rommel’s Afrika Corps. His inadequacy in the face of his hero’s accomplishments also motivates Walter’s decision to try to assassinate FDR on Hitler’s birthday.

Carl, or Carlos, Webster is the U.S. Marshal from Elmore Leonard’s book The Hot Kid. He’s known as that because a journalist wrote a book of his exploits gunning down gangsters and fugitives. His wife, a gunnery sergeant who instructs troops in the firing of machine guns had once been considered to be the girlfriend of Pretty Boy Floyd, and saved his life on a couple of occasions with her quick wits and quicker trigger finger. He’s in the book both because he’s a marvelous character who I’m sure Leonard felt deserved another appearance in one of his novels, and because he’s hot on the trail of the two escaped Nazis. It’s nothing personal - he’d met and had talked to them enough previous to their escaping to almost think of them as being his friends - but it’s something he feels he has to do.

Vera Mezwa is one of the many interesting secondary characters in Up In Honey’s Room. She is the Ukranian leader of a German spy ring and is pretending to be a Polish countess. Her manservant Bohanan is a transvestite who swings both ways, having first masqueraded as a transvestite to avoid being caught naked in Vera’s bedroom by Vera’s husband and found out as being her lover. After the Nazis imprisoned him and made him wear a pink triangle signifying he was a homosexual, and the guards cruelly treated him, he slit three of their throats to make good his escape.

What better way to sum up my review of Leonard’s novel Up In Honey’s Room than to say it is excellent, vintage Elmore Leonard, the master of the form at perhaps his best. This is saying a lot, because Leonard has had some of his novels made into movies, such as Get Shorty and Out of Sight, and he’s written more than three dozen books altogether, including some Westerns, like Three-Ten To Yuma And Other Stories. Up In Honey’s Room is a winner of a story any mystery lovers will thoroughly enjoy, and it’s a book I’d highly recommend.



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