In an interview with Barnes & Noble, Elmore Leonard said his writing was deeply influenced by the works of Richard Bissell. So I immediately went to Amazon to get a copy of Bissells work...and I am glad I did. And after reading HIGH WATER, a tale of a first mate on a Mississippi steam boat during an epic flood, it was easy to see the influence Bissell has had on Leonards approach to character and dialog. Bissell has that same naturalistic, funny, amiable way with characters, whether they are good guys or bad guys, that makes even the most minor players in the tale memorable and interesting.
His plotting is loose and yet surprisingly powerful. And his eye for the telling details is sometimes astonishing in its simplicity and truth. I can see why Leonard, as a young writer, was impressed, and why he adopted some of the same techniques.
HIGH WATER is worth reading, not only for insight into Leonards writing style, but on its own considerable merits . I loved it and look forward to devouring Bissells other work