THE WAY WE DIE NOW by Charles Willeford
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Episode #4 for Miami cop Hoke Moseley (Miami Blues, New Hope for the Dead, Sideswipe) doesn't have the taut, sly cross-plotting that made those earlier books so distinctive--sort of a cross between Elmore Leonard and Ruth Rendell. But it does have weirdly lovable Hoke himself, and Willeford's whiplash narration; so there's more than enough here to keep Hoke fans hooked as the story meanders along in a disjointed, picaresque way. Hoke wants to concentrate on one of his ""cold cases"": the never-solved murder of a rich Miami doctor--shot dead one early morning outside his house. But, instead, he's ordered to go on a dangerous undercover mission down in the Everglades region, where Haitian migrant workers are apparently being abused--even casually murdered--by a brutal tomato-grower. So, posing (without his dentures) as a quasi-hobo, Hoke gets himself hired as a foreman at the tomato farm--and is almost immediately fighting for his life in hand-to-hand combat with the monstrous grower and a fiendish henchman. Then it's back to Miami--where that M.D.-murder finally does get solved. But meanwhile Hoke has a strange domestic crisis: Ellita--the ex-cop and unwed mother who shares Hoke's house (platonically) and helps raise his two daughters--runs off with. . .rich ex-con Donald Hutton, a murderer nabbed some years back by Sgt. Hoke Moseley! Offbeat? Absolutely. Engaging? Entirely. And along the way there are sweatily vivid locales, leanly colorful characters, and a few violent encounters that make Elmore Leonard seem like Swan Lake. It will be easy, then, for readers to overlook the fact that this is the weakest entry in the series thus far--and it wouldn't be surprising if (as had happened with so many mystery writers) this under-par item gets the sort of attention that Willeford has deserved for years.

Pub Date: April 5th, 1988
Publisher: Random House