Charlie Marz and Other Stories (The Unpublished Works of Elmore Leonard) (US) is an enjoyable read with some very tasty pieces to feast upon. Nearly all of them are slow-burners of sorts, with plenty of dialogue and description to give a sense of meandering to the tales. In many of the cases, the slow-burn built up to a blaze and left me entirely satisfied and wanting more. In a few, there’s less power and depth and the kick just wasn’t really there.
There’s a lot of variety on show and the way the author generates work in such a range of settings is impressive.
Favourite for me is The Italian Cut, a simple story on the surface about a woman’s new hairstyle and a husband who doesn’t want to like it. Leonard manages to tell whole life-stories in a very short space and does so with real dexterity.
In his visits to the old west, I prefer the musings of a teenage cowboy in The Line Rider to the more predictable Charlie Martz stories.
Other gems include a visit to communist jungle camps and the messy revenge of the opener.
Recommended if you’re happy to be hypnotised and lured into your fiction rather than being snapped out of your thoughts with a slap in the face.