Monday, June 30, 2008

Review of Tishomingo Blues

Elmore Leonard is back at his spellbinding best with one of his latest offerings, Tishomingo Blues, which takes its readers through a string of nerve-wracking events. The tale blends big city mobsters with backwoods criminals and a very confused high-diver. Only Leonard can weave a tale like this and leave the readers on the edge of their seats. Step into a world where justice takes a back seat to the whims of the heavy hitting criminals.
Dennis Lenahan is a diver in his late thirties who has come to Tunica, Mississippi to work at a new casino. He has traveled from one sideshow to another trying to carve out a living after being a phenomenal diver in college. He’s somebody that you’d describe as someone who’s seen it all. So, to say he was relatively unfazed when he witnessed a murder from atop his forty-foot ladder is not surprising. He’s certainly rattled a bit, but just wants to finish his stint and get paid.
The murderers are a couple country boys who take the law in their own hands and think they run the town. Enter Robert Taylor. Taylor is a gangster in town from Detroit with designs on taking over the drug trafficking in the area. His plan involves intimidating the men who Lenahan saw from his high perch. Taylor is a slick-talking man with no a take-no-prisoners attitude. He befriends Lenahan and tries to recruit him to his side. He offers him protection from the men he saw commit murder as they attempt to intimidate him to have him keep his mouth shut. Lenahan is in a real pickle as he wants to remain safe, but isn’t sure if he wants to enter a life of crime.
This tale is spun in the Deep South where the confederate flags still wave with pride. The climax of the novel takes place during a Civil War reenactment where every attention to detail is considered. Leonard weaves this story with a mixture of 21st century crime with 19th century sensibilities. Only the accomplished crime novelist, Elmore Leonard, can pull off a tale which sounds so unbelievable on the surface and make you believe it’s happening in real life. Lenahan is the catalyst in the novel because whichever way he winds up leaning as he weighs his options. You can just sense that his calm, reasonable demeanor is the only calming influence in the story and you pray that he doesn’t meet an untimely end and hope he emerges as unscathed as possible in the hornets’ nest that Leonard presents in Tishomingo Blues.


This article is contributed by Heather Johnson, who regularly writes on ITT Tech Reviews. She invites your questions and writing job opportunities at her personal email address: heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.



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