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Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard

October 4, 2012

With over 45 published books, Elmore Leonard has to be considered one of the masters of crime fiction. His sharp-witted, likeable criminals make for a world that is smart, funny and ruthless. Everybody’s got some kind of angle. Nobody can be trusted. And his plots zip along like a well-paced movie.

Unfortunately, in Road Dogs the plot feels a little thin. Leonard brings back some characters from his other books, most notably Jack Foley, who was played by George Clooney in Out of Sight, a movie based on a Leonard book. Foley meets up with a diminutive but wicked Cuban drug dealer, Cundo Rey, during their time in prison. They become buddies. “Road Dogs.” When Foley is released, he moves into one of Cundo’s homes in Venice, where he meets Cundo’s girl, a drop-dead gorgeous grafter and psychic, Dawn Navarro. Much underhandedness ensues.

It’s all very entertaining, and it reads like a screenplay, but the plot just feels a little light. I never felt truly vested in the characters other than Foley, and it never feels like Foley’s in real danger. Plus, I had a number of questions about Dawn’s motivation. That all said, it’s a pretty entertaining read, and Leonard’s dialogue in particular is excellent.

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