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UP IN HONEY’S ROOM by Elmore Leonard


by Elmore Leonard

Pub Date: May 8th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-06-072424-5
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Tulsa deputy U.S. Marshal Carl Webster, his hell-raising reputation secured by The Hot Kid (2005), tangles with Nazis in a slow-motion dance in wartime Detroit.

Walter Schoen, a dead ringer for Heinrich Himmler who was born the same day at the same hospital, is convinced that he’s Himmler’s secret twin. Apart from his oh-so-cute habit of pointing a cocked finger at his now-estranged wife Honey while passing gas, Walter isn’t a lot of fun, and it’s no wonder Honey left him five years ago. Now, as the war winds down, Walter’s in the spotlight—not because he looks like Himmler, but for equally unlikely reasons. Otto Penzler and Jurgen Schrenk, a pair of SS officers imprisoned in Tulsa, have escaped and made a beeline for Detroit, where Walter holds court with Countess Vera Mezwa Radzykewycz and her motley retinue: transvestite cook/housekeeper Bohdan Kravchenko, rib-joint Grand Dragon Joseph J. Aubrey and obstetrician Michael Taylor. Carl Webster has followed Otto and Jurgen in cold pursuit—not because he’s reluctant to capture or kill them, but because FBI agent Kevin Dean has ordered him to leave them alone until the Feds figure out what they’re up to. The upshot is that the SS escapees are hiding in plain sight with Walter and company while Carl circles in frustration, unable to get any closer to them than Honey, who’s perfectly willing to go to bed with both him and Jurgen. The extended tableau vivant is the perfect backdrop for the laid-back conversations in which the characters discuss love, loyalty and a plan to assassinate President Roosevelt in honor of the Fuhrer’s birthday.

Despite constant threats of violence and occasional doses of same, the lazy plot is almost an afterthought to the spectacle of a bunch of “useless spy ring guys” as compulsive as windup toys, and about as consequential.