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Leon's Legacy (Paperback)
Years ago, Portland’s Lono Waiwaiole published three terrific crime novels featuring Wiley, a professional poker player who lived on, and was capable of being safe on, both sides of the law. The first book, Wiley’s Lament, came out in 2003, Wiley’s Shuffle in 2004, and the “last one”, Wiley’s Refrain, in 2005. We loved the books. They’re good, solid noir, well written with characters who lived and breathed. Plus here was a PNW author we could recommend. What else did we need? Well, we could’ve used paperbacks. Lono had none so it was hard to get readers who didn’t go for hardcovers to try his books.
Now, after no books in a dozen years, there’s a fourth to the series, a prequel, Leon’s Legacy. It follows Wiley and his new friend Leon as Leon arrives in Portland during their senior year in high school. It’s the late 80s and the LA gangs have just brought their drugs and warfare to Portland. Wiley and Leon become tangled in that while trying to take the school’s baseketball team to the State championship.
Lono was a high school teacher in Portland at that time, as well as a basketball coach. He obviously knew the kids well as he injects the book with the lively sass and hormonal gamesmanship of teenagers. Each chapter is told from a rotating group of figures in the story: boys and girls, gang-bangers and ballers. The story has the thump and whoosh of the court and the raucous crowding of the students. But not lost is the threat to the kids by the bangers – the threats of the bullets as well as the easy money of the drugs. Will they make it to State, will they win the tournament? Or will grudges and guns get in the way?— JB