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New fiction: 'Up in Honey's Room'

Elmore Leonard's new novel features a panoply of colorful characters and a plot to assassinate FDR.

Let's see – we've got an SS German prisoner of war cavorting with a Jewish thief, an Oklahoma US marshal flirting with the ex-wife of a suspicious German-born Detroit butcher and Nazi sympathizer, and, for good measure, a bisexual cold-blooded killer from Odessa bungling a triple murder in Motown. If this sounds like a typically bizarre cast from an Elmore Leonard novel, that's because it is. The Honey of the title, Honey Deal, is a wisecracking beauty and former wife of Walter Schoen, a dead ringer for Heinrich Himmler who perpetuates the myth that he is Himmler's twin brother. Schoen, a butcher, envisions a glorious martyrdom involving a far-fetched scheme to fly a plane into the Little White House in Warm Springs, Ga., and assassinate FDR. All of this Nazi nastiness draws the attention of the FBI. But a more worrisome development for the bad guys looms in the figure of Carl Webster, star of Leonard's 2005 novel, "The Hot Kid." Webster is still sly and cocky, not to mention being a crack shot and a minor celebrity thanks to a bit of pulp nonfiction. Bullets fly, but, as with most Leonard novels, things really move when the dialogue gets going. A typical exchange: "You know the word hoosgow [sic]?" Comes the reply: "It's the jail in a Gene Autry movie." Somewhere, Chili Palmer must be laughing his head off. Grade: A