Elmore Leonard takes a victory lap and crafts the perfect beach book with his latest Road Dogs. For his 46th novel (my best count), the 83 year-old author picks some of his favorite characters and creates a volatile mix where anything can happen. Humor and noir mix in equal measure to deliver a crisp crime novel.
The story begins with Jack Foley (played by George Clooney in the movie version of Out of Sight) back in prison in South Florida. As a celebrity bank robber, Foley maintains a certain level of respect among the inmates. He is joined in prison by Cundo Rey a connected and wealthy Cuban criminal (from LaBrava). Foley and Rey are “road dogs” – inmates that look out for each other on the inside. Rey “loans” his high-powered attorney to Foley, who has his prison sentence greatly reduced. Beholden to Rey, Foley heads to Venice, California to wait for Rey’s release and the inevitable pay back. Enter Dawn Navarro (Riding the Rap), femme fatale and Rey’s common-law wife who has been waiting patiently for her husband’s release.
Once the gang isall together, it’s game on as the trio try to play each other while keeping an eye out for the angles. It’s a fairly conventional plot that somehow never quits throwing surprises in front of the reader. For an 83 year-old, Leonard seems surprisingly fresh and as tuned into the criminal/street underworld as ever. It doesn’t hurt that the reader can’t help but imagine George Clooney coolly delivering Foley’s lines throughout. This book is made for summer.
I haven’t read much Elmore Leonard, but I’ve enjoyed the handful of his books that I have read. My favorite of the Leonard novels that I have read is Cuba Libre, a gripping read from start to finish that reminds the reader why we’re supposed to “remember the Maine”. Add it to your reading pile this summer, too.