Wednesday, June 1, 2011

CR3 #45: Pronto by Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard's work (so far as I can tell) is populated by a rich and eccentric group of characters. Each one has a distinct personality, and each seems to act for reasons that make sense with his personality--I never got the feeling a character was doing something just to suit the author's plan.

The main character of Pronto is Harry Arno. He's an aging bookie who has been forced into retirement earlier than planned by local crime lord Jimmy Cap. In fact, he hasn't just been forced into retirement, he's been chased right out of Miami. Harry's insistence that he's been set up by the local feds in order to get him to testify against Jimmy falls on deaf ears, and soon men with shotguns are turning up outside Harry's apartment. The US Marshall service sends Marshall Raylan Givens (yay!) to keep an eye on Harry, but Harry is just a little too slippery for his own good. Soon, Raylan is chasing Harry through Italy, with Jimmy Cap's men close on his tail.

It's a good story with solid characters. I was--as always--happy to see Raylan Givens, though his character in the book is a little less charming than Timothy Olyphant plays him on Justified (the beginning of the show actually picks up right where this book ends). The side characters were also entertaining, and I was invested in what happened to them (even though Harry is not particularly likable, the people around him were). Even the bad guys were written to be interesting and at times sympathetic. The plot moved along briskly, and I never found myself feeling either bored or rushed. The way the story ended left some openings, but was not unsatisfying. On the whole, I'd recommend this to anyone who likes a well-written crime caper.

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