Picks and Pans Review: Tishomingo Blues

updated 02/04/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/04/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Elmore Leonard

Stunt diver Dennis Lenahan is standing on a platform 80 ft. above his water tank outside a casino in Tishomingo, Miss., when he sees a laborer get shot by two guys on the ground. The only other witness is a flashy, blues-loving, Jaguar-driving dude from Detroit (Don Cheadle, call your agent) who helps him stay alive but may be using Dennis for his own ends.

After 36 novels, including Get Shorty and Out of Sight, the pope of pulp is still keeping his cast busy with the usual snitch decommissioning, corpse disposal and drug empire consolidation. Leonard's dialogue is crisp and salty, but so is a bag of potato chips. The empty calories bloat the book's midsection to set up a payoff that doesn't: a kitschy Civil War battle reenactment to which bad and badder guys secretly bring real ammo. The battle plays out with all of the thrills and chills of a checkers game. A washed-up ex-baseball pitcher who talks incessantly about the time he came out of the bullpen in the World Series is Leonard's comedy reliever, but the gag starts thin and tapers off. (Morrow, $25.95)

Bottom Line: The thrill is gone

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