Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Will Jack Foley Reach Costa Rica

Jack Foley, America's all time leading bank robber and ultimate Mr. Smooth, gets out of the pen and has a dream. Everyone thinks the first thing he will do is rob another bank. His ex-wife who meets him at the gate upon exit thinks so. Lou Adams -- FBI guy and wannabe author who is five hundred pages into a book about bank robbing, featuring Foley -- thinks he will, and has been tailing him since day one. But Foley insists his only dream is to go to Costa Rica.

The book is called Road Dogs. I'm three-fourths of the way through and at this point in the story we've met a whole slew of typically quirky Elmore Leonard characters, from Jack's buddy inside the prison named Cundo Rey (who keeps reminding Foley that they're "road dogs"), to Little Jimmy, Tiko, Dawn (Cundo's psychic babe who is apparently out to get his money) and a Hollywood actress whose late husband was apparently haunting her house.

Well, it's an enjoyable follow-up to Out of Sight, the original Jack Foley story which on celluloid starred George Clooney as Mr. Cool, Jack Foley, and Jennifer Lopez as the hot shot federal marshall Karen Sisco who ultimately put him behind bars, in her own way, of course.

I was introduced to Leonard's books through St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Joe Soucheray over lunch at a writer's conference at Mankato State in the mid-1980's. Elmore Leonard is evidently one my favorite writers because I must have read twenty, and maybe thirty, of his books, several of them multiple times. And it's quite remarkable how long he's been cranking them out, how many have become Hollywood films and how fun they are to read. Some, like Hombre (Paul Newman) and Mr. Majestyk (Charles Bronson) were decent films but never could hold a candle to the subtle pleasure of the written words as Leonard assembled them.

It's fun to see how many of the same places and themes keep emerging in fresh new ways: Cuba, Florida, Detroit, Hollywood, bank robbers and showdowns... So it leaves me asking myself, why does Jack Foley keep saying he wants to go to Costa Rica?

An interesting feature of the story is how everyone seems to want Jack to be their "partner" in some grand scheme, though you are never sure where those schemes are going. Foley is one cool guy though, keeping his options open as he lets them play out. At this point in the story vultures are circling and... well, let's see who's dreams ultimately come true.

Recommendation: Read Out of Sight first and get to know Elmore Leonard's style as well as the central character in this sequel. The books may offend some who are squeamish about language and violence, so they may not be recommended for all. Enjoy!

6 comments:

M Denise C said...

Thanks for the interesting review. I will have to read some of Elmore Leonard!

ENNYMAN said...

If you like Westerns, I think you will enjoy Hombre. Mr. Majestyk is a favorite, as is Get Shorty. In 2003 he wrote A Coyote in the House, about a movie star dog that switches roles with a coyote... It's entertaining and very different, but with the usual Elmore Leonard twists. I liked The Hot Kid, about bank robbers circa the Bonnie & Clyde era. But alas... start where you like. Thanks for the note.

Mike Savage - Savage Press said...

Ever read Elmer Kelton, Ed? Western writer worth the time.

ENNYMAN said...

Thanks for the suggestion. We'll see what time permits....
e.

M Denise C said...

I have seen the movie Hombre many times!! I will check out your recommendations. Also, I just bought a Kindle and have downloaded some classics very cheaply. I am going to read Agatha Christie's books in order. Why? I don't know . . .

ENNYMAN said...

I do think it is interesting to choose an author or film director and go through all their works in order. Agatha Christie would be a fun one, I suspect.

As for Hombre, glad you liked the flick... you owe it to yourself to now read the book.

be well...
ed