Leonard, Elmore. Split Images.

NY: Arbor House 1981.

This is one of Leonard’s earlier crime thrillers, but he was already on top of his game. (And stayed there.) Bryan Hurd is a homicide lieutenant in the Detroit PD — a city with an unusual number of murders every month, so he stays busy.

One of his detectives used to be Walter Kouza, before he cleared out for Palm Beach, and Walter gets called out to evaluate the shooting of a Haitian refugee by a rich man in front of his house overlooking the ocean. The homeowner is Robbie Daniels, heir to a Detroit auto parts fortune, and it quickly becomes clear that Robbie likes to make use of his gun collection. And then there’s Angela Nolan, freelance journalist, who has been interviewing Robbie for a magazine article about lifestyles of the rich and non-famous. And when Bryan and Angela meet up unexpectedly, it’s a game-changer.

Leonard is a master both of characterization and of cinematic scene-setting, both of which are obvious in this slowly-building thriller. Robbie’s growing hobby as an assassin, Walter’s growing frustration as a bodyguard/chauffeur/investigator, and Bryan and Angela’s cautious but growing passion are all painted in numerous dimensions and in glowing colors. It’s not a long read but it’s a very enjoyable one. Even so early in his long career, it might just be one of his best.

Published in: on 12 January 2014 at 9:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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