Comfort To The Enemy
Carlos (Carl) Webster is the main character in Leonard's novels: The Hot Kid and Up in Honey's Room. This book is a collection of three stories with Webster as the protagonist.
Webster, a Federal Marshall, has the reputation as being a shoot-first-ask-questions-later-type peace officer. He is married to a former dance hall gal. The setting is post World War II. In Showdown at Checotah we are introduced to Webster as a young teen. He lives on a pecan farm with his father and is a serious young man with a dead-eye ability using firearms. After killing a poacher, he tells the investigating officer that when he grows up, Carl wants to go into law enforcement. Years later, that very investigator hires Carl.
In the second story, Louly and Pretty Boy, readers are introduced to Carl's wife, Louly Ring. She is a complicated and confusing character. She begins as a young girl who dreams of being a gangster's moll, but later matures into a loving devoted wife. Her maturation process is hard to empathized with since she we shown only a quick glimpse of his back story. Hopefully, Leonard is at work creating a more complete connect-the-dots reckoning of life story.
In the novelette, that is the same title as this compilation, Carl is dispatched to one of the many German POW camps in America to investigate the hanging of one of the prisoners. Initially, the death is ruled a suicide, but soon after Carl starts snooping around, murder becomes more likely the method.
One of Leonard's greatest strengths is his mastery of dialog. His characters all seem to jump off the page and out of each book he writes. This probably explains why so many of his novels have been adapted to film.