KILLING SUKI FLOOD -- A load of stolen ball bearings, a bagful of cash, and an army of very hungry ants
Killing Suki Flood by Rob Leininger (St. Martin's Press, 1991; 311 pages)
Trouble. The moment Frank Limosin sees gorgeous eighteen-year-old Suki Flood sitting on the rear deck of the Trans Am in the hot empty desert, he feels trouble in the air. The Trans Am has a flat tire. They're more than ten miles from the nearest highway. And Suki, dressed in short shorts and a tiny halter top, doesn't know how to change a tire. Against Suki's will, Frank gives her a lesson in tire changing, then he thinks that's it, he'll never see her again. How wrong can one man be? Because Suki turns out to be fifty times more trouble than Frank ever dreamed possible. He saved her once. Now he has to save her again and again and again . . .
If Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard had a baby, and that baby went on to write an episode of "The Rockford Files," Killing Suki Flood just might be that episode. Middle-aged trucker Frank Limosin is on the lam from the cops when he meets beautiful 18-year-old Suki Flood in this often diverting, but not-quite-believable first novel. Having sold the load of ball bearings he was supposed to deliver for $77,000, Frank heads for the New Mexico desert to hide out and plan his next move. With misgivings, he picks up Suki, whose car has broken down, and learns that she's on the run too, from a sadistic con-man boyfriend named Mink who has sent a few of his thugs after her. After being beaten up by the henchmen, who take Suki to Reno, Frank hitches from the desert to an airport, rents a plane and rescues Suki, who wants revenge. She and Frank start to gather evidence of Mink's financial misdealings, but are recaptured by Mink, who plans to torture them both to death.
Number 1 on author Ken Bruen's Top Ten Noir Novels list. Bruen writes: "The opening of this novel is perhaps the most hilarious and noir chapter I’ve ever read. The main character, on the run with a camper full of booze and cash, comes across a gorgeous young woman stranded in the desert. He doesn’t exactly help her, but does slowly teach her how to change the tire on her sports car. He is a battered fiftysomething, and she is barely twenty and flighty as a desert wind. The most compelling and beguiling romance develops. The novel also contains one of the most excruciating torture scenes I’ve ever read. You will never quite hear a dripping tap with the same nonchalance again."
Publisher's Weekly said: "Leininger's crisp, snappy dialogue outshines his predictable plotting and inconsistent characterization."
While I wouldn't go quite as far as Bruen in praising Killing Suki Flood, I did enjoy this book quite a bit, more as it went along, in fact. Even through the quite gruesome ending. This book is filled with protagonist Frank Limosin's dark, caustic humor, and, while the whole thing feels, at times, like a middle-aged guy's inappropriate fantasy, it's a very fun ride.
Request this title through Interlibrary Loan: Killing Suki Flood
Recommended by: Greg