cover image Up in Honey's Room

Up in Honey's Room

Elmore Leonard, . . Morrow, $25.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-06-072424-5

Set in the waning days of WWII, bestseller Leonard's disappointing 40th novel finds gunslinging U.S. marshal Carl Webster, introduced in 2005's The Hot Kid , on the trail of Jurgen Schrenk and Otto Penzler, German POWs escaped from their Okmulgee, Okla., detention camp. The pair wind up in Detroit in the care of Walter Schoen, a butcher and Himmler look-alike, with whose ex-wife, wisecracking bottle-blonde Honey Deal, Carl soon finds himself smitten. While married Carl contemplates breaking his marriage vows (Honey does anything but dissuade him), Otto disappears and a dysfunctional German spy ring—led by hard-drinking Vera Mezwa and her cross-dressing manservant, Bohdan—cozies up with Jurgen. Vera and Bohdan, meanwhile, are secretly planning to disappear, but Bohdan wants to put in the ground anyone who could later give them up to the Feds. Leonard's writing—line by line—is as sharp as ever, but the plotting is uncharacteristically clunky and the pacing is stuck in low gear. Leonard has written a lot of great books, but this isn't one of them. (May)