Deliver Me From Dallas BOOK review [Charles Willeford]

Book Reviews
Deliver Me From Dallas BOOK review [Charles Willeford]
Jul 1, 2001, 23:59

DELIVER ME FROM DALLAS by Charles Willeford; Dennis McMillan, 2001

If As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner and The Getaway by Jim Thompson had a baby the result would be Deliver Me from Dallas. A crime-thriller with a shifting chapter to chapter multi-character perspective, Deliver is as good as anything Willeford has ever done.

Bill Brown is an L.A. cop who has had his share of trouble. So much trouble that he has been busted all the way down to traffic duty. Bill quickly finds his way into more difficulty by punching out a stubborn motorist in the heat of the moment, and needs to leave town in a hurry. Dallas seems like as good a place to lay low as any, and after Bill arrives into town the action of the novel quickly begins to unfold. Finding himself short of money and a clean change of clothes, Bill decides to pull the old “Let me help you put your luggage in that locker” grift on the nearest country rube in the bus station, then absconds to a hotel with the man's luggage and settles in to wait out his L.A. troubles. But there is one problem. The suitcase he has stolen from the man in the bus station turns out to be full of money. Ransom money from a kidnapping. Bill Brown soon finds out that trouble tends to breed more trouble, as he is hunted by the Dallas police and the kidnappers who want their hard-earned loot back.

The novel features the usual brilliant cast of wonderfully crafted Willeford characters, enhanced by the fact that most, if not all of them get to have their own distinct voices as the tale shifts perspective from chapter to chapter. Highlights of the novel include a wonderfully written Hitchcockesque showdown scene at a carnival that is so vividly drawn you can almost see the images click by frame by frame in high-contrast black and white. Also of note is a wonderful romantic sub-plot between the sister of the kidnapped child and protagonist Bill Brown. It is a love story like the one in the movie Rainmaker between the Matt Damon and Claire Danes characters that the watcher/reader knows is a bad idea; borders on taboo; ultimately shouldn't happen, but as you watch it unfolding you ache for it to happen anyhow.

I am glad that Deliver has finally made its way onto the shelves, it is another great addition to any crime fiction collection, and a special treat for all of us Willeford fans.

-Eric Frost

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