Humor as Dry as the Dust Bowl

The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard

Since I’m a frighteningly bad navigator of the roads, it probably should come as no surprise that listening to this audiobook caused me to completely miss my turn and overshoot by about 10 miles before even realizing it.

But I tell you: that’s how good this audiobook is. I was completely engrossed, and I contend that narrator Arliss Howard is simply a genius. Here he delivers the best audiobook narration I’ve ever heard.

Plus I’d not read anything by Elmore Leonard before, and now I think I might be a convert.

This book has it all going on: two young punks—one “good” (U.S. Marshal Carl(os) Webster is clearly the good guy, though he truly delights in shooting bad guys) and one “bad” (Jack Belmont, the rotten son of an oil millionaire); a variety of other supposedly secondary characters—who are sufficiently well-drawn that they threaten to take center stage (witness Carl’s dad, the Marine who fought in the Spanish-American War, and Louly, a gun-slinging young woman who yearns for an outlaw of her own—but ends up with a lawman instead); a wonderfully gritty setting—dustbowl Oklahoma during the Great Depression; and a plot that just won’t let go of you.

The combination of Leonard’s bone-dry humor and Howard’s deadpan delivery make this audiobook nothing short of perfection.