Sunday, August 28, 2005

29. Freaky Deaky by Elmore Leonard

Freaky Deaky book pictureMy girlfriend took this out of the library and I wanted to get another taste of Elmore Leonard. The only book of his I can remember reading is Mr. Majestyk, which I picked up for cheap right after seeing the movie with Charles Bronson (there's a great scene where the badguys shoot his watermelons).

It's quick reading, with many different characters revolving around each other in a moral morass of cons and backstabbing, with a thick strain of romance for the protagonist driving the whole thing forward. Some ex-radicals from the '60s decide to try to extort money from a rich friend of theirs who has become basically brain dead through excessive partying. He's like Ozzie and he has this ex-Black Panther as his manservant who is also scamming him. An explosives expert who just left his department and then gets suspended gets involved to help a woman who'd been sexually assaulted by the wasted millionaire. I think these are classic Elmore Leonard plots (think Get Shorty or Jackie Brown) and they are entertaining in their convolutions. They also make people look pretty morally fallible.

Ultimately, though, this one just didn't grab me. The style is not sparse enough to be really tough (like Richard Stark), though that's the milieu he's aiming for, nor is it wacky enough to be truly fun (like Carl Hiaasen). So it basically boils down to a small crime story with decently portrayed but not all that interesting characters. It was okay and I'd grab other Elmore Leonards if I was desperate, but I won't be picking up any more in the near future.

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