When does a fascination turn into an addiction? If it is an addiction, I guess it’s harmless to me and other living things. So it’s back to Elmore. He’s always good for a few chuckles, but Maximum Bob kept me laughing pretty much the whole time. Bob is a judge, famous for handing out maximum sentences. Thus the nickname. He’s also famous for what today we’d call sexual harassment, but when the book was written in 1991 it wasn’t a disbarment offense to invite a court reporter into his chambers and ask her to play carnival. “What’s that?” “You sit on my face and I guess your weight.”
Bob marries a girl with a job in a watch-the-mermaids tank at a local bar. Shortly after, she has a paranormal experience when an alligator gets into the tank and the fright of it conjures into her consciousness a 15-year-old slave girl from centuries past. From then on, Leanne listens only to the girl and tries to get Bob to go along with the meditations, crystals, and whatever other spiritual stuff she dreams up.
Into Bob’s courtroom steps Kathy Baker, a probation officer trying to represent Dale Crowe–The Crowe’s being Leonard’s favorite redneck halfwit crime family–so he doesn’t get sent up for violating his probation. She fails with Dale, but attracts horny Bob’s attention, which sets the plot in motion. The rest of the book consists of Kathy pursuing Dale and his ex-con uncle Elvin, Bob pursuing Kathy, and alligators pursuing and gobbling up small dogs. There are a couple of more interesting convict idiots in the mix that keep the frolic complicated. Not that the book is free of pathos. One particular murder–unexpected to me–tugs the heartstrings. However, despite the bloodshed, the book is mostly fun.
I don’t think I’ve conquered my addiction yet, nor have I tried, so look for more Elmore from me in the future.