Monday, 18 November 2013

ELMORE LEONARD - 52 PICK-UP


Synopsis/blurb.........

Detroit businessman Harry Mitchell is a self-made man, happily married for over twenty-two years and a pillar of the community. But then he slips - he meets a young 'model' and begins an affair. One night he arrives at his girlfriend's apartment and finds more than he bargained for. Two masked men have caught his misdemeanours on camera and now they want a cool hundred grand. But they've picked the wrong man, because Harry Mitchell doesn't get mad - he gets even.

This was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me. 52 Pick-Up was November’s selected read for my Pulp Fiction group over on Goodreads. In truth the monthly poll was comprised solely of Elmore books, as a tribute in memory of his recent passing.  52 Pick-Up would also have been one of my first introductions to the crime fiction genre, back in the late 80’s or early 90’s. Originally published in 1974, this was Leonard’s second or third foray into crime fiction having previously been penning westerns.

Well did the passage of time and the reading of a thousand-plus books in the intervening 20 years, diminish my enjoyment second-time around?

Hardly, I was still thrilled by the premise of the novel and the re-read came long enough after the first outing for me to have forgotten most of the detail and for the second visit to be fresh. (I drank champagne at my wedding 25 years ago; I know I enjoyed it, but I can’t remember what it tasted like!)

Mitchell despite his transgression is a likeable and capable main character. Unwilling to be pushed around when confronted by the blackmailers and put on the spot; he refuses to panic and decides to fight back, albeit initially against a faceless enemy. Shrewd and analytical, he calmly retraces his footsteps to the point where it all began. If he can put names and faces to the schemers, he has enough confidence in his abilities to defuse the situation, one way or another.

After confessing to his wife, Barbara; unsurprisingly relations on the home-front get frosty and matrimonial bliss is suspended. On the work front, union negotiations provide a further unwelcome distraction for Mitchell, particularly after his blackmailing adversaries up the ante and instead of punishing Harry for his infidelity, decide to frame him for murder instead. Mitchell whilst juggling a few balls in the air at the same time keeps his focus and endeavours to successfully multi-task.   

Interesting, engaging, amusing, great scenes, fantastic dialogue, superb action, wonderful characters, satisfying climax. If you were to sample only one of Leonard’s books, you could do a lot worse than this one. 190 pages long, read in a day!

5 stars from 5 (for the 4th time this month!)

Unable to locate my copy, I had to make a sneaky second-hand purchase on e-bay. 



    

10 comments:

  1. I've not read this one, but I do like Elmore Leonard, so you never know....

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    1. Moira - go on you know you want to!

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  2. Col - Elmore Leonard was so good at this kind of story. I'm not surprised you gave it 5 from 5 even in two different parts of your life.

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    1. Margot, when it rocks it rocks, even 20 years apart!

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  3. I've only read Unknown Man #89 and LOVED IT and I do have 52 PICKUP so there will be more Elmore Leonard coming up. Yes! There will be more.

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    1. Yes! On the same wavelength here, I will try for some more next year. Either re-reads or some of the latter stuff I never got to.

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  4. Col, this is a reminder to read some of Elmore Leonard's shoot-from-the-hip fiction. Many thanks.

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    1. Prashant, I don't think I would ever tire of reading books like this.

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  5. Col, I am very eager to read Elmore Leonard after watching the first season of Justified. I have several I picked up a the big book sale, and Glen has given me two or three. Great review, makes me want to find a copy of this one.

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    1. He doesn't pad his books either.......190 pages, what's not to like? I'll look for some 2014 Elmore reviews on the blog!

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