I've read too little from Leonard's 60-year career to judge which have been his stronger and which his weaker periods, but Riding the Rap certainly seems a weaker book than Pronto. Each features as its protagonist Raylan Givens, a courtly U.S. marshal from Kentucky thrown up against some serious criminals in Florida and Italy. The situation is ripe for social comedy, but Riding the Rap violates one of the keys to Leonard's low-key humor: Its characters sometimes seem to know they're being funny, which is a lot less funny than when they play it straight and leave the laughs to the reader.
Hints of romantic tension seem thrown in merely because Leonard felt the need to inject drama. Especially irritating to this copy editor/reader, Leonard tacks on question marks to declarative statements. Presumably this is meant to suggest the rising intonation some speakers use. Leonard makes the interesting choice of giving this stereotypically female tic to male characters as well as female ones, but the tic is still no less annoying in print than it is in real life.
Compounding the superfluous question marks, the book several times omits question marks where they are called for. This may be mischief on Leonard's part, or it may be sloppy copy editing, but whatever the reason, it's a bloody distracting pain. Y'know?
© Peter Rozovsky 2012