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Elmore Leonard

James Sallis' noir outlook in 'The Killer Is Dying' and 'Drive'

James Sallis' noir outlook in 'The Killer Is Dying' and 'Drive'

James Sallis lives in a place that really shouldn't exist. The city sits in the middle of "an incredibly forbidding desert," where on this day the temperature will reach 112 degrees. Like Los Angeles, decades ago it became too big for its local water supply. It's a place of migrants, and of rootlessness. It feels as permanent as a trailer park. Which makes Phoenix the perfect setting for Sallis' dark new novel, "The Killer Is Dying," (Walker: 233 pp., $23) a sparse, noir tale of a sick and slowly dying hit man, the homicide cop trying to run him to ground and a resourceful teenager carving out an improbable life after both parents abandon him. ...

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