Review

Quiver

by Peter Leonard

Let
us acknowledge, rather than ignore, the 800-pound grizzly bear in
the middle of the room. QUIVER is the debut novel of Peter Leonard,
the son of thriller genre icon Elmore Leonard. And yes, in many
ways it reads like one of his father's books. All of the familiar
elements are there: the story is set in Michigan; it features
true-to-life characters who are extremely interesting and, in some
cases, deeply flawed (but nonetheless oddly appealing); and those
selfsame characters are involved in a caper that goes off the
rails, almost from the get-go. Oh, and how could I forget? Peter
Leonard's narrative is as compelling as anything you will read this
year.

Leonard begins his inaugural literary journey with the equivalent
of a somersault while walking on a high wire: he takes one of the
most interesting characters out of the story before it even begins.
The book opens with the aftermath of the funeral for Owen McCall,
tragically killed by his 16-year-old son Luke as the result of a
hunting accident. The author matter-of-factly drops little factoids
about McCall --- not the least of which is that racing and wise
investments made him a very rich man --- mostly through the
memories and recollections of Katie, his widow, who at various
points recalls their courtship and rock-solid marriage. Katie,
however, had an interesting past before meeting Owen, and a part of
that past shows up like a bad penny in the wake of Owen's
death.

Jack Curran is freshly processed from prison and out on parole
after doing stand-up time for his part in an armed robbery. He is a
somewhat charming loser who sees no reason to change his ways.
Returning to Detroit, he decides to renew old acquaintances with
widowed Katie, who is tied to multiple emotional horses, including
loneliness, passion, loyalty to Owen, and her all-but-certain
knowledge that deep down Jack has not really changed.

Meanwhile, Jack finds himself caught up with his two partners from
the armed robbery, both of whom are looking for the proceeds of the
heist that he no longer has. Teddy Hicks has his own very brief
past with Owen, and is a dangerous and fatal combination of a
mean streak and terminal stupidity, fueled by Celeste, his
sociopath girlfriend. DeJuan is possessed of an animal cunning
that in turn is camouflaged beneath a personable, almost likable
exterior.

Jack offers up the wealthy Katie to the unhappy pair, who, with the
help of Celeste, hatch a scheme to separate Katie from a part of
the family fortune through Luke, who himself is acting out his
anger and frustration at his pivotal role in the turn of events
that brought his father's life to an end. A local deputy sheriff,
meanwhile, has designs on Katie as well, ones that will lead to a
violent climax played out against the backdrop of rural Michigan as
one woman's past and present abruptly collide with fatal
consequences.

Writing after the style of Elmore Leonard is no sin --- even if you
are related to him --- and anyone attempting such a feat better
have the goods well in hand. Peter Leonard does. His ability to
create an atmosphere where anything can and will happen arguably
surpasses that of his father, so you'll be sitting in the air off
the edge of your chair more than once during your reading of
QUIVER, but most particularly at its conclusion. With Elmore
Leonard in the still-stellar twilight of a brilliant career, the
addition of son Peter to the literary ranks is more of a good thing
--- and that is a great thing.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Quiver
by Peter Leonard

  • Publication Date: May 13, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312379021
  • ISBN-13: 9780312379025