Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Out of Sight

Out of SightOut of Sight by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ace bank robber Jack Foley breaks out of jail with every intention of resuming his old ways until he runs into US Marshal Karen Sisco. Sparks fly and each find themselves conflicted. Will Karen be able to do her job and bring Foley in when the time comes?

Out of Sight is the story of Jack Foley, bank robber extraordinaire, and Karen Sisco, bad ass US Marshal bent on bringing him in after he escapes from a prison and the two of them get locked in the trunk of a car when she happens to be in the prison parking lot.

Like all Leonard books, the lines between good and bad are as blurred as a photo of the Loch Ness monster. Jack and Buddy, while bank robbers, don't seem like bad guys. I like that Leonard made Jack likeable without feeling the need to Robin Hood him up. Karen's a capable lady and I love the relationship she has with her PI father.

Leonard did a good job with the relationship between Foley and Sisco as well. In lesser hands, it could have easily degenerated into romantic comedy drivel but Leonard makes it work. Without giving it away, they don't ride out into the sunset at the end and you get the feeling the time period in the book is all they'll ever have.

The really bad guys in this one, Maurice, Kenneth, and White Boy, are pretty bad by Leonard standards. I don't recall many of Leonard's other antagonists being rapists. They made Foley and Buddy look like angels by comparison.

Like a lot of Leonard's books, the tension builds until the shootout at the end. Can Karen set aside her feelings and bring Jack in when the chips are down? You'll have to read and see. As always, the dialog is as smooth as 40 year old whiskey.

For my closing remarks, it was interesting that one of the characters mentioned Pulp Fiction since Tarrantino's next movie was Jackie Brown, based on Rum Punch, an Elmore Leonard novel. Also interesting, Karen's contact in Detroit is Raymond Cruz, hero of City Primeval!

Some Elmore Leonard books are awesome and some are just ok. This one is out of sight! Get it? 4.5 out of 5 stars!

The Big Bounce

The Big Bounce (Jack Ryan, #1)The Big Bounce by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Washed up wannabe ball player Jack Ryan has a brush with the law and soon gets entangled with Nancy, a rich man's young girlfriend. Turns out Nancy is a thrillseeker and soon has Jack headed for another brush with the law...

If I'm not mistaken, this is Elmore Leonard's first crime book. While it's by no means as polished as his later works, it's the prototype from which the rest evolved.

Jack Ryan, the protagonist, is a conflicted guy pulled into a femme fatale's orbit and finds himself powerless to resist her pull, no matter how outlandish her ideas are. Nancy, the femme in question, gets her kicks by breaking windows at rocks, firing her .22 pistol at boats and windows while driving her mustang 70 mph. Complicating things are a pair of mugs Ryan did some B & E with at the beginning of the story and the boss of the cucumber-picking outfit Ryan was working for until he beat up his crew leader.

Like every Leonard book after this, there is a fair amount of double dealing. Also like it's descendents, the dialogue is slicker than a wet raft and the lines between good and bad are as blurred as the drive home after a weekend-long drunk.

Brief side note: This has been made into a movie twice but I have no inclination to see either since I don't buy Ryan O'Neal or Owen Wilson as Jack Ryan. Or as capable actors, for that matter.

For historical reasons, you'll want to give this a read as an Elmore fan. Otherwise, you could safely miss it. It's not bad but old Dutch hadn't hit his rhythm quite yet. It's like the demo version of one of your favorite songs. 3 out of five stars.