four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
29-July-Aug-2007
user_rating: 
0

A-Up in Honey’s RoomDuring the waning days of World War II, U.S. Marshal Carl Webster, who starred in The Hot Kid ( 4 of 5 Stars Selection July/Aug 2005), chases down two German POWs in Detroit. Oklahoma detention camp escapees, the Germans find refuge with Walter Shoen, a butcher who, unbeknownst to his smart-talking, stunning ex-wife, Honey, is a Nazi spy. Attempting to use Honey to approach the Germans, Carl, though married, finds himself hopelessly attracted to the bottle blonde. Relationships and betrayals fly fast and furiously as the action involves a German spy ring, a Ukrainian femme fatale and her transvestite companion, a plot to kill President Roosevelt, an FBI evasion, and a final shootout.
Morrow. 304 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0060724242

Philadelphia Inquirer 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Leonard’s novels give you a better feel for America than any of the brooding fictional meditations on the emptiness of suburbia come close to doing. … Leonard also has a keener eye for the absurd than any French existentialist has ever had." Frank Wilson

Newsday 4 of 5 Stars
"No living American writer has a better ear for dialogue. … The interplay between Webster and Honey is the stuff Leonard does so well." Charles Taylor

Boston Globe 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Leonard clearly loves these characters, and makes their interactions believable and a blast to read. … At times, as entertaining as they are, Leonard’s silly and sparkling one-on-ones reach beyond even fictional credibility." Clea Simon

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Because he can’t count on our having read The Hot Kid (which has a high narrative/dialogue ratio), Leonard has Carl and the other characters here synopsize his adventures to draw us in. … This has a peculiar cinematic effect—everyone seems to be talking all the time (as in Get Shorty), but their dialogue is more about delivering information than it is about an idiosyncratic point of view. This can be disorienting." Jane Smiley

Rocky Mountain News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Fast moving, cold-blooded and comic, the action swerves and leaps from one character’s adventure to another’s, bringing echoes of the major events and everyday life of Detroit and America in the 1940s. [But] Leonard fans will find little new in style or technique." Rex Burns

Critical Summary

Though in his 80s, Elmore Leonard proves, in his 40th-something novel and sequel to The Hot Kid, that he’s still at the top of his game. As in previous novels, character dominates plot: "What happens next is not really the point," notes the Boston Globe. Critics particularly praised the wonderful interaction between Carl and Honey, the crisp dialogue, and the chaotic threads that meld together into a coherent whole. The lack of narration, however, threw off a few critics, as did some exaggerated details and Carl’s relatively uninteresting personality (he’s now married, after all). But in the end, "Up in Honey’s Room is a perfect example of a master storyteller spinning a tall one" (Philadelphia Inquirer). And, perhaps, a movie script.