Friday, November 21, 2008

Pronto, Elmore Leonard

Posted by lea at 11:22 AM
Elmore Leonard, prolific author of crime comedies such as Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Be Cool, does what he does best in Pronto. His stories are slick, the plots fast-paced and characters cool - misfits in the above-board world, they're right at home in the criminal underworld, and so, it would seem, is Elmore Leonard.

In Pronto, Harry Arno is part of the Miami underbelly - a crooked bookie who skims from his mafia boss, Jimmy Cap, and then gets set up by the FBI as a fall guy in order to get Jimmy. Enter US Marshall Raylan Givens, a Stetson-wearing niceguy who, despite having been given the slip twice to the jeopardy of his career, still likes Harry and tracks him down in Italy in order to capture, as well as protect, him from his old boss and the FBI.

Pronto is a good read - quick, interesting and funny. The plot isn't overly convoluted, and although there are a number of big and small characters involved, Leonard fleshes them out nicely. The only criticism is that the protagonist switches halfway through from Harry to Raylan, which requires a mental adjustment that jars an otherwise smooth plot. But on the plus side, he teaches Italian swear words along the way, like testa di cazzo -'dickhead'. A crime caper that's also educational? Couldn't ask for more.

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