Thursday, June 27, 2013

Classic Elmore Leonard

Out of Sight

by Elmore Leonard

Published by William Morrow Paperbacks

4 Out of 5 Stars

Bank robber Jack Foley didn't plan to take U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco hostage when he escaped from prison, it just sort of happened. It's one of those in the wrong place at the wrong time scenarios. And as so often happens when two people spend any quality time together in the cramped trunk of a car, especially if one has just spent part of the evening crawling through a tunnel carved out of the odiferous Everglades muck and the other is hiding a Sig Sauer between her thighs, love and attraction quickly blossoms. And they say romance is dead.

What follows is typical Elmore Leonard, which is to say amazing: snappy dialogue, complex characters, and a fast moving narrative. Leonard books aren't traditional crime/mystery novels. Sure, there's usually a crime and unsavory characters abound, but that's not the point of his books. Leonard's novels are character studies. He examines the lives of the not-so-bad-guys while simultaneously acknowledging that there is plenty of badass evil in the world. Take Jack for example. Leonard doesn't sugarcoat the fact that Jack is a criminal. He robs banks, he's good at what he does, and it's the only life he's ever known. He's no Robin Hood; his only interest is self-preservation and making easy money. He knows it's too late to go straight and try to live a normal life. However, does this automatically negate the fact that, in terms of personality, Jack is just a damn likable guy? No. And that's what draws Karen to him, despite her instincts. These two aren't idiots: they know there's no happy ending for them. There's a moment that they can choose to take advantage of or not. And does any of this negate the fact that Jack has gotten himself mixed up with some truly bad people? Nope.

This is one of those cases of "wish I had read the book before I saw the movie." I really hate it when this happens because I can't help but picture the actors as the characters, which robs me of the opportunity to "see" them for myself (which was particularly jarring in the case of Karen Sisco who, in the book, is slim, willowy, and blonde--in other words, the physical opposite of Jennifer Lopez, though Lopez was good in the role).

And in a continuation of Why I Hate the Kindle: I was sitting in Bass Pro Shop (not my favorite place in the world, but heaven on earth to my husband) in St. Louis and reading this book. A very nice lady sat down on the bench next to me and asked if I had seen the FX show Justified, which led to a very serious and intellectual literary conversation (okay, so maybe it was just about how hot Timothy Olyphant is in that role and what Leonard books the series is based on). My point being: would she have approached me if I had been sitting with my non-descript Kindle? Maybe, but maybe not.

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