cover image A Long Walk Up the Water Slide

A Long Walk Up the Water Slide

Don Winslow. St. Martin's Press, $20.95 (277pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11389-6

Elmore Leonard meets Professor Higgins in Winslow's (Way Down on the High Lonely) latest high-spirited Neal Carey caper. Neal agrees to hide big-haired Brooklyn gal Polly Paget from the media and other predators after she publicly accuses her former boss and lover, family-TV personality Jack Landis, of rape. Once again in the hire of the secret Friends of the Family organization, Neal and his lady love, Karen Hawley, agree to smooth some of Polly's rough edges before she reenters the public eye. Landis, his prim co-star/wife Candy and their investors (some of whom are less than legitimate), who are poised to expand the Landis communications empire into a family theme park, are leery of ugly publicity. The missing woman is hunted by assorted parties: a magazine publisher out for a high-profile centerfold sends a drunken investigator after her; the Landises hire a former government agent to find her; and someone else has called upon the services of a coolly competent hired gun. After assorted cast members converge at the Carey home in Austin, Tex., Neal, Karen, Polly and an unexpected new friend run for cover. Winslow's dialogue zips along as smartly as the action. If Polly becomes less interesting as her diction improves, the rewards of this tale, whose lowlife characters rival the cast of Guys and Dolls, remain undiminished. (Nov.)