OUT WEST FOLLOWS the lives of two '90s-style outlaws: Amber engineered a gas explosion to blow up her boyfriend and the "other woman," while Benjamin West was caught with a bag of dope (two ounces--that's quite a "bag"!) and a 17-year-old girl. West did his jail time and hit the road. Amber fled L.A., the scene of her pyromania. When we meet up with them--and they with each other--it's in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco, whereupon the pair gets involved in a justifiable (of course) murder.
The author works overtime to convince us that these are "gritty" characters. He also wants us believe that they aren't all that bad--Amber is a VISTA teacher, and West worked for 11 years with handicapped children before his unfortunate bust. Leebron has an excellent descriptive eye and many of his insights into the minds of these characters are right on, but it's difficult to find a real passion and purpose for this book. With all the attention given to the eye candy and to creating a wild 'n' sexy atmosphere, any hope for a story that would make the reader give a damn about Amber and West is left in the dust. Leebron has labored to put together the kind of signifiers that are supposed to push the all the hot buttons in our minds. Unfortunately, his lunge for the cinematic compromises his true talents, and doesn't get me "Out West" much past Maple Grove.