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Road Dogsby Elmore Leonard
Synopses & Reviews
Jack Foley and Cundo Rey are road dogs: trusted jailhouse comrades watching each other's back. They're so tight, Cundo's using his own money and his shark lady lawyer to get Foley's sentence reduced from thirty years to three months. And when Jack gets out, the wealthy Cuban criminal wants him to stay in Cundo's multimillion dollar Venice Beach house — right across from the one where Cundo's common-law wife, professional psychic Dawn Navarro, resides.
There will certainly be some payback expected, though Jack can't figure out what. Sexy Dawn's intentions are a lot clearer. But Cundo's coming home earlier than anticipated, and Jack smells a double-cross cooking — the kind that could turn a road dog into road kill.
"Leonard launches three characters from previous novels on a collision course in this seemingly effortless performance. After prison buddy Cundo Rey (last seen in LaBrava) drops a bundle on a shark attorney, celebrity bank robber Jack Foley (from Out of Sight) gets his 30-year prison sentence reduced to 30 months. Jack's quickly back in the world, living large in one of Cundo's two multimillion-dollar houses in Venice, Calif., juggling a fast seduction with fortune-teller (from Riding the Rap) Dawn Navarro (who is now Cundo's lady) and the untoward attention of rogue FBI agent Lou Adams, who's waiting for Foley to rob another bank. While Dawn tries to enlist Foley in a scheme to steal Cundo's off-the-books fortune, Cundo surprises them with an early release. Betrayal simmers while Foley considers going semi-straight — with the help of a widowed starlet — Dawn hatches a plan that could get her rich and rid her of all her problems, and Cundo's associates and neighborhood toughs get sucked into the fray. The plot isn't as tight as it could be, but Leonard's singular way with words is reason enough to read it." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
At any given moment there are hundreds of men and women who, in the twilight of their careers, should be regarded as American national treasures. For example, the politician John Lewis, the musicians Willie Nelson and Ellis Marsalis and the novelist Larry McMurtry, to mention a few. To that list let us add 83-year-old Elmore Leonard, whose new book, "Road Dogs," is yet another gem in a career that... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) has endured for more than half a century and given us 42 novels. In the 1950s, Leonard started out writing westerns, some of which became notable movies: "Hombre," "Valdez Is Coming" and "3:10 to Yuma." When the western market dried up in the early 1970s, he turned to crime fiction. He was soon a cult favorite, widely admired for books like "Stick" and "LaBrava." His novels have not been blockbuster best-sellers, probably because they're too quirky for some readers, and he's reached his biggest audience on film. About 30 of his novels have been adapted for movies or television, including the popular "Get Shorty," "Out of Sight" and "Rum Punch" (filmed as "Jackie Brown"). He was one of the novelists who appeared in the 1970s with new ideas that expanded the boundaries of crime fiction past those set by Dashiell Hammett, Ed McBain and John D. MacDonald. Leonard's special contribution was that he found criminals amusing. He liked his crooks, and readers ended up rooting for them. His style was different, too. He was notable for his funky dialogue, and his basic rule of writing was revolutionary: Leave out the parts people will skip anyway, starting with descriptions of the weather and scenery. In "Road Dogs," Leonard unites three characters from previous novels: Jack Foley, the handsome bank robber from "Out of Sight"; Cundo Rey, the Cuban hustler from "LaBrava"; and Dawn Navarro, the con artist and supposed psychic from "Riding the Rap." Foley (George Clooney in the film) has been serving in prison with Cundo — they are "road dogs" who watch each other's back. Cundo, who has access to money, hires a lawyer who wins Jack's freedom. They soon meet in Venice, Calif., where Cundo's lover, Dawn, and his partner, Little Jimmy, are keeping an eye on the two homes he owns, worth a total of $6 million. Part of the problem is that macho Cundo persists in the delusion that sexy Dawn has been faithful to him during his eight years in prison. The cast also includes Lou Adams, an FBI man who is stalking Foley, determined to arrest him and write a book about him; Tico, a gangbanger whom Adams hired to spy on Foley; Danny, a movie star who thinks her late husband's ghost is haunting her; and Cundo's bodyguard, a neo-Nazi skinhead. None of these characters is to be trusted. Each is motivated by some mixture of greed and lust — with a bit of stupidity often added — and the novel unfolds as a masterpiece of duplicity. Dawn is hellbent to relieve Cundo of the valuable properties he owns. To that end, she is soon sleeping with three of the men (Cundo, Foley and Tico) and thinking about seducing Little Jimmy, who's gay, if he can be of use. Neither Cundo nor Foley, the two prison buddies, trusts the other, but each thinks the other can be useful. Foley is a charming rascal — he's robbed 127 banks without ever carrying a gun — but dangerous when aroused; he kills one man and puts another in traction. Typically, Cundo's skinhead bodyguard at one point tells Foley, "You want, I can pop Cundo for you. It'll cost you, but I'll make you a deal." Danny, the widowed movie star, is the character closest to honesty, but she's an actress and thus duplicitous by nature: "She shined her eyes at him, wet with tears, he believed because it was expected of her, doing the scene." Foley likes Danny well enough, but he's also plotting with Dawn to parlay the widow's infatuation with him into a six-figure score. Dawn comes close to stealing the novel. Among her quirks is her belief that "in a past life, an astonishing 3,500 years ago, (she) was Hapshepsut, daughter of a pharaoh and became a pharaoh herself." Leonard gives her some of the novel's best lines, such as this one, when she has two bodies (former lovers both) on ice in her basement freezer and a bodyguard at hand: "It occurred to Dawn, if she seduced Zorro she could get him to take the two bodies out to sea." When Foley asks her why a woman's navel is so appealing, she replies astutely, "I suppose because it's right in the middle of the playground." The funniest scene in the book, however, involves the lovable swindler, Little Jimmy, who decides to go to Mass for the first time in 27 years and explains why to a priest: "I want to be on the safe side, confess to missing Mass fourteen hundred times because I'm going to dinner in honor of my boss. There is a possibility he could have the fortune-teller, who's preparing the food, poison me." One hopes to see more of Jack Foley. He still pines for Karen Sisco, the deputy U.S. marshal who romanced and then shot him in "Out of Sight" (Jennifer Lopez in the movie), and she pines for him, too. There is clearly more fun to be had here, and Leonard, the hippest, funniest national treasure in sight, is the man to provide it. Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"[F]ull of wonderful banter and the kind of back-and-forthing between characters out to double- and triple-cross each other that Ross Thomas used to do so well....Reading isn't supposed to be this much fun." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[O]ne of Mr. Leonard's most enjoyably sneaky stories....Mr. Leonard, now 83, still writes with high style, great energy, unflappable cool and a jubilant love of the game. As ever, his scorn for fussy prose is best expressed through his own superbly lean locutions." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"[T]he double-crosses are the stuff of the master's best work....What works best are the matchless incidental pleasures Leonard's world always provides, from lightning-fast descriptions to bull's-eye dialogue..." Kirkus Reviews
"Road Dogs is vintage Leonard — a sly, violent, funny and superbly written story of friendship, greed and betrayal....Leonard [is] still at the top of his game at the age of 83." The Associated Press
Road Dogs is Leonard at his best — with his trademark tight plotting and pitch-perfect dialogue — and readers are sure to love seeing Cundo Rey, Jack Foley, and Dawn Navarro back in action and working together...or are they?
“Road Dogs is terrific, and Elmore Leonard is in a class of one.”
“You know from the first sentence that youre in the hands of the original Daddy Cool....This onell kill you.”
About the Author
Elmore Leonard has written more than forty novels, including bestsellers Up in Honey's Room, The Hot Kid, Mr. Paradise, Tishomingo Blues, Pagan Babies, and Glitz. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty and Out of Sight. He lives with his wife, Christine, in Bloomfield Village, Michigan.
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