From: Mark D. Nevins (nevins_mark@yahoo.com)
Date: 28 Jun 2009

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    (This seems not to have come through yesterday, so I'm re-posting. I hope it's not a duplicate.)

    Unlike my disciplined (many might say "anal retentive") approach with other crime novelists, I tend to read Leonard's novels randomly--not in publication order, but rather I just grab one off the shelf every few months and devour it. I'll get through them all eventually, and probably start reading them all over again when I do.

    Last night I cranked through THE SWITCH in one sitting--it's from 1978, and feels like a product of its times in all the right ways. This one is about two cons (Leonard's classic white guy and black guy) who decide to kidnap the wife of a rich but shady Detroit businessman while he's on an adulterous business trip to the Bahamas. Of course, there's a lot more to the story than any one of the individual characters knows, and the tale quickly becomes a down-and-dirty version of "The Ransom of Red Chief" with an ending more Roald Dahl than O. Henry. Not Leonard's best, but a winner. Does he ever disappoint?

    I think RARA-AVIS a while back reckoned KILL SHOT Leonard's best novel--was that pretty unanimous?

    Best, Mark Nevins

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