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Bandits (2003)

Bandits (2003)

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3.57 of 5 Votes: 1
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0060512202 (ISBN13: 9780060512200)

About book Bandits (2003)

I picked this book because Elmore Leonard was described to me as the “greatest American author,” and it raised my curiosity, for I have heard that term used loosely with a lot of “greats.” Perhaps “greatest” applies to the noir he was writing in: crime with a touch of black humour.The situation is bizarre, the plot takes off at an unplanned tangent, the events are comedic, the characters are eccentric, and the good guys win while the baddies get their come-uppance in the most unexpected manner. Jack Delaney, an ex-con working for his brother-in-law in a funeral parlour, meets Lucy the ex-nun who dreams of having a showdown on the street with the Contra leaders and stealing their ill gotten gains to build a leper hospital in Nicaragua. Their associates in the heist are Rick, a Robin Hood type cop who once landed in jail for his borderline actions, and Cully, a bank-robber who is just out after 27 years and is desperate to get laid in case he winds up in the can again after another botched “job” and has to endure a libido diet for a further 27 years. Arraigned against them are the bad guys: Dagoberto (Bertie), the Contra chief who is in the USA to fundraise for his cause and has the blessing of President Reagan and the US establishment, and his two Latino henchmen. Leonard throws in the CIA and IRA to add flavour, and convolutes the plot in unpredictable directions. He also creates an unforgettable character in Franklin de Dios, Bertie’s half-Indian terminator, who is very composed whenever he encounters his opponents, whether it’s just after he has killed someone or when facing death himself, and greets them with a polite “How you doing?”Social prejudices and political issues are exposed amidst the humour and mayhem: “Leprosy comes from coloured people,” and “In rich countries, the rich get robbed, in poor countries, the poor get robbed.” The characters have depth unlike in traditional crime entertainment novels: Lucy explores her reasons for joining and leaving the nunnery, and Jake attains St. Francis of Assisi like status with his desire not to kill the enemies but to bring them into the fold even at the risk to his own life. And the comedic situations are hilarious: two burglars surprise each other by entering the same room at the same time on the same mission, Cully makes love to a deaf woman and is arrested for stealing her hearing aid, and Rick calls the bluff of an ex-nun with a shoulder gun and learns a painful lesson. And yet the narrative is uneven and jerky, and back story is filled in with voluminous paragraphs of dialogue which starts to sound formulaic after awhile. That is why I would refrain from conferring the title of America’s greatest novelist on Leonard, although he is a very entertaining and engaging one and someone who has definitely shaped the crime noir genre with his vast oeuvre.

Let me clarify my rating upfront: four stars for an Elmore Leonard novel is like five stars for any other book. You simply can't go wrong by picking up one of Leonard's novels. I haven't read one yet that wasn't tightly written and filled with unique, fully-wrought characters speaking razor-sharp dialogue. There's always some kind of crime afoot, but beyond that, each book is different -- which is a refreshing break from most other authors whose books tend to be the same story with different characters in different settings. Bandits is classic Elmore Leonard. I was a little disappointed in the ending, but otherwise, this book packed the punch I have come to expect from every Leonard novel. The story centers on Jack Delaney, an ex-con working in a funeral home who meets a nun wanting to steal two million dollars from a Nicaraguan colonel on a fundraising trip to the USA. Jack finds himself navigating a maze of ex-cons, ex-girlfriends, and Nicaraguan expatriates, most of whom have no problem with killing him. At one point, I found myself reading dialogue that I had heard spoken less than an hour earlier in an episode of Justified on FX. The writers of the show had lifted it word-for-word from Bandits, only it was Jack and his girlfriend, not Raylan Givens and Karen Goodall. I guess when your TV show is based on an Elmore Leonard character, you're free to steal from him at will! I'm finishing the last issue of Realms of Fantasy before continuing on to another Elmore Leonard novel, this one his newest -- Raylan. I don't think I'll ever tire of the stories Leonard writes.

Do You like book Bandits (2003)?

Elmore Leonard makes it all look so easy. He creates a bunch of quirky, interesting three-dimensional characters, tosses in some narrative device that will get them all bouncing off of each other, and then stands out of their way as they clang around like pin balls in his story machine. Nothing happens exactly as planned. Some of the players meet strange or unexpected fates. Because the characters have lives and wills of their own, they don’t follow predictable paths towards the ending. Sometimes they change their mind. Sometimes they surprise themselves.In Bandits, ex-con Jack Delaney is working at a mortuary when he gets caught up with Nicaraquan rebels, the CIA, a former nun from a leper colony, an ex-cop, assorted felons, a stoic Miskito freedom fighter and many others somehow involved in a fund-raising effort in Louisiana, ostensibly for rebels fighting to overturn the Sandanistas who have taken over Nicaraqua. Elmore Leonard gives each their own way of speaking in a way that reveals their thoughts and character. The dialogue is naturalistic and riveting.
—John Onoda

Pardon my ignorance, but I recently learned of the reputation and success of this author and decided to read one of his novels. This mystery was eclectic with heroes being a nun, a mortuary employee, a prison inmate, a bartender, a CIA agent and a couple of Nicaraguan Contras and Sandinistas. The story line of the book is similarly unpreditable. The things that I did not know about the author were extensive including his books being made into movies including the likes of "Get Shorty". Jackie Brown" and "The 3:10 to Yuma. Even more impresive were the movie stars that were the lead characters in less successful films which included Charles Bronson, Burt Lancaster, Roy Scheider, Burt Reynolds, Alan Alda, Tom Selleck, David Caruso, Jimmy Smits, George Clooney, Jennifer Lopex, Christopher Walken, Peter Falk, John Travolta, Mickey Rourke and Jennifer Anniston. A fun, keep you interested mystery.

This book was certainly quite the tale. Its a bit chatty but ive come to the conclusion that Elmore Leonard likes that sort of thing. I enjoyed this because it brought a little bit of mystery, action, suspense and always had you guessing. Jack Delaney is a relatable character and you learn how a once shady guy can still get his hands dirty one last time. I also enioyed it because it is one of those classic good guy bad guy clashes and wondering of who you can trust. It tells a great story, the characters were all unique and alot of respectable moments as well. Overall I really enjoyed this book and with that I am off to read my next Elmore Leonard book.

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