four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
42-Sept-Oct-2009
user_rating: 
0

A-Road DogsElmore Leonard, whose career has spanned a half-century and produced more than 40 novels, reintroduces readers to some familiar felons in Road Dogs (prison slang for inmates who band together and look out for one another): legendary bank robber Jack Foley from Out of Sight; Cuban go-go dancer Cundo Rey from LaBrava; and gorgeous professional psychic Dawn Navarro from Riding the Rap.

The Story: Jack Foley and millionaire Cundo Rey become fast friends as they serve their sentences in a Florida penitentiary. When Cundo pays his shady lawyer $30,000 to spring Jack on a technicality, he sends Jack to Venice Beach, California, where Cundo's allegedly dutiful common law wife, Dawn Navarro, and business partner, Little Jimmy, have been looking after Cundo's investments. Trailed by a tenacious FBI agent, Jack is determined to turn over a new leaf until he meets the lovely Dawn. The two are soon keeping house and cooking up get-rich-quick schemes, unaware that the jealous Cundo has been released early and is on the way to California. Let the double-crossing begin!
William Morrow. 272 pages. $26.99. ISBN: 978-0061733147

Boston Globe 4.5 of 5 Stars
"The fun in the best of his novels-and this is the best in years-stems from the fact that Leonard starts turning the screws on page one and never stops. The dialogue crackles; the supporting characters are crisply drawn; and the story achieves almost instant escape velocity." Stephen King

Christian Science Monitor 4.5 of 5 Stars
"The story glides along and, before you know it, it's way past your bedtime but Jack Foley is too charming to shut off the lights just now. In lieu of filler, Leonard revs the plot, dials up the banter, and gets out of the way." Erik Spanberg

New York Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Foley has the brains, Cundo the machismo and Dawn the shamelessness to make this one of Mr. Leonard's most enjoyably sneaky stories. ... Mr. Leonard, now 83, still writes with high style, great energy, unflappable cool and a jubilant love of the game." Janet Maslin

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Road Dogs is yet another gem in a career that has endured for more than half a century and given us 42 novels. ... Each [character] is motivated by some mixture of greed and lust-with a bit of stupidity often added-and the novel unfolds as a masterpiece of duplicity." Patrick Anderson

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Droll and exciting, enriched by the self-aware, what-the-hell-why-not insouciance of a master now in his mid-80s, Road Dogs-underlying its material of sex, violence and money, and beyond its cast of cons and thugs and movie stars-presents interesting questions. Can a grown person change? Specifically, can a man abandon an expertise that wins him respect but makes a mess of his life? Can anybody trust anybody? Is love ever true? Is friendship ever real?" Robert Pinsky

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"Leonard is a master storyteller. ... Road Dogs evolves from a cheerful and moderately grisly buddy story into a taut study of people striving to manipulate each other without being manipulated in turn." Katherine Dunn

Providence Journal 4 of 5 Stars
"Here they come again: Elmore Leonard's larcenous, murderous, plot-spinning, yarn-spouting robbers, ex-cons, bimbos and lawmen in a terrifically funny and quirky novel that delights and shocks as much as it entertains and astounds. ... Leonard writes in such a deliciously deadpan manner that he makes his characters talk about murder and conspiracy the way we might plan a dinner party." Sam Coale

Critical Summary

The critics, thrilled with Leonard's latest novel, unanimously praised it as another success in a long line of groundbreaking successes. Leonard's revolutionary, minimalist style-including his disdain for long descriptions and tedious scene setting-sends the plot racing along on deliciously deadpan dialogue between vivid, engaging characters, a few of whom readers already know and love. Amid the murder and mayhem, Leonard also poses larger questions about the varying degrees of loyalty and treachery in relationships. Readers new to Leonard don't need to return to the earlier novels to appreciate Road Dogs, but they probably will once they're hooked. Leonard's fans will definitely share the critics' hopes that Jack will return for a third performance.