Fifteen years after his last Detroit novel, Killshot , Leonard (whose most recent effort was Tishomingo Blues ) returns to Motor City for another exemplary crime thriller. Chloe Robinette, an escort, is on a $5,000 monthly retainer from wealthy, retired octogenarian lawyer Anthony Paradiso; her duties include dancing topless in a cheerleader's outfit for him as he watches videos of old University of Michigan football games. On a night she persuades her roommate, Kelly Barr, a Victoria's Secret model, to join her in the dancing, Chloe and Paradiso, aka Mr. Paradise, are shot dead in Paradiso's mansion by two middle-aged white thugs. The hit has been set up by Paradiso's right-hand man, Montez Taylor, who's angry at Paradiso for cutting him out of his will; Montez then asks the shocked Kelly to impersonate Chloe in order to scam valuables from Paradiso's safe deposit box, to which Chloe had a key. Enter Frank Delsa, a Detroit homicide cop, who smells a rat and falls for Kelly while sorting matters out. She falls for him, too, but will the hit men and/or Montez take her out, since she can identify them as conspirators? Like the best crime thrillers—which means like most of Leonard's work—this novel is character-driven, and in its wonderfully rich, authentically human cast the story finds its surprises. The prose, as expected from Leonard, is perfect—in 304 pages, there's not a word that doesn't belong exactly where he's placed it. Brilliantly constructed, wise and tough, this book, like so many recent Leonards, offers a master class in how to write a novel. (Jan.)
Forecast: With major ad/promo including a six-city author tour and simultaneous large print edition and cassette/CD audiobooks, this title will settle comfortably on national bestseller lists.