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You can t lose something you don t haveEl Leonard, KillshotNot a fantastic Leonard, but still a very good one Leonard is the master of defining 5 7 good characters, setting them all in motion and writing great dialogue as they orbit closer and closer and eventually either crash into one another or find an unnatural equilibrium This story is basically a cat mouse game between two bizarre criminals One an impulsive shit talker Richie Nix One an French Ojibway Indian hit man ArmaYou can t lose something you don t haveEl Leonard, KillshotNot a fantastic Leonard, but still a very good one Leonard is the master of defining 5 7 good characters, setting them all in motion and writing great dialogue as they orbit closer and closer and eventually either crash into one another or find an unnatural equilibrium This story is basically a cat mouse game between two bizarre criminals One an impulsive shit talker Richie Nix One an French Ojibway Indian hit man Armand Degas, Aka Blackbird, Aka Bird and a middle aged couple that probably needs to read Hold Me Tight Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love They aren t a bad couple They probably just need a bit of marriage counseling Oh, and they probably need her mother to move or die One of the great things about good or great Leonard novels is not even the main cast of characters but his ability to breath life into bit players He has a gift for dialogue and a talent for capturing essentials about the human condition in funky misfit characters I ll leave my review there because if I write anyI m tempted to expand into the nature of bureaucracy, the character of local cops, or feminism in crime novels and might just give too much of the plot away And the surprised and twists are one of the real reasons to read Leonard Killshot was written during El Leonard s prime, so the plot and pacing crackle with intensity The novel is one of the best crime comedy novels Leonard ever wrote it certainly must be on all of his fans top ten list The book is full of the author s insightful wit along with the usual mix of smart and dumb criminals destroying decent folks and each other until they meet nice but streetsmart people who happen to be a little bit smarter and luckier Wannabe hitman Richie Nix, who is som Killshot was written during El Leonard s prime, so the plot and pacing crackle with intensity The novel is one of the best crime comedy novels Leonard ever wrote it certainly must be on all of his fans top ten list The book is full of the author s insightful wit along with the usual mix of smart and dumb criminals destroying decent folks and each other until they meet nice but streetsmart people who happen to be a little bit smarter and luckier Wannabe hitman Richie Nix, who is someone missing a lot of brain filters along with any moral ones, runs into an actual hitman, Armand Blackbird Degas The chain of events leading to their acquaintance and partnership are highly improbable, but given the amazing true crime non fiction I have read, not entirely impossible Whatever Once they meet, Nix leads Degas into a scheme of extortion which goes wrong, and thenwrong, starting with targeting the wrong victims Carmen and Wayne Colsen are very good together as a couple Their marriage works despite quirks and differences She s a clever real estate agent and he is a strong muscular ironworker They have a son in the Navy and a very pretty home that they fixed up over several years But when Nix and Degas mistake Carmen s husband for the owner of the real estate company she works for in a Keystone Kops confrontation, the two bad guys end up getting their asses kicked Degas and Nix barely escape Their plan to extort the real estate owner is forgotten The couple saw their faces, though, so the dastardly duo plan a return visit to silence them forever However, they don t know who the couple is, or where they live, and the FBI has become involved because as bumbling as Nix is as a killer, he truly is an insane killer Degas and Nix have begun eyeing each other with growing distaste too Perhaps their partnership should be dissolved permanently after they have taken care of the witnesses to their failed attempt to rob the real estate owner Who will live and who will die is going to come down to the best killshot strategy I m gonna commit what should be the most flattering of intellectual property crimes, and pass along the opening query with which Kemper begins his admittedly superior review of this book Who would bedangerous, two sociopathic killers teaming up or a middle aged couple who could use some marriage counseling Well if that isn t a question for the ages, then I just don t know what is This is a bit of a lazy review, so I ll give you some extra tidbits of info to take into accou I m gonna commit what should be the most flattering of intellectual property crimes, and pass along the opening query with which Kemper begins his admittedly superior review of this book Who would bedangerous, two sociopathic killers teaming up or a middle aged couple who could use some marriage counseling Well if that isn t a question for the ages, then I just don t know what is This is a bit of a lazy review, so I ll give you some extra tidbits of info to take into account while puzzling through this scenario One of our sociopaths, Armand Blackbird Degas, is half Canadian well, French Canadian , and half Ojibway Indian Sociopath number two, Richie is IMHO incredibly annoying The man of the house is an iron worker The little lady is in real estate taking care of her elderly mother I was up and down with enjoying the story, and wanting them to get on with it already I ll tell you this, though El Leonard knows how to keep tension in the air I believe the word that is suspense, but that term covers far too broad a swath of feelings for my liking these days Short, interesting and unpredictable P.S I didn t read this in Italian, but that s what my cover looked like, so just go with it The 27th novel by El Leonard, published in 1989 as his renaissance from pulp fiction to the bestseller list was underway, killed me softly It begins as a routine caper, headed for a bit of home invasion as a pair of crooks tangle with a married couple It s all carried over with Leonard s sharp, often inspired dialogue, illustrious research and just enough quirkiness to keep me turning the pages The novel coasts toward its conclusion and when I wasn t looking, knocked me to the mat.Armand The 27th novel by El Leonard, published in 1989 as his renaissance from pulp fiction to the bestseller list was underway, killed me softly It begins as a routine caper, headed for a bit of home invasion as a pair of crooks tangle with a married couple It s all carried over with Leonard s sharp, often inspired dialogue, illustrious research and just enough quirkiness to keep me turning the pages The novel coasts toward its conclusion and when I wasn t looking, knocked me to the mat.Armand Degas, alias The Blackbird, a half breed tough guy from Toronto, drags himself out of a bar to take work in Detroit, where a mafioso s father in law is staying in town for a Tigers game Bending one of his rules never let them start talking and sticking to another never leave any witnesses , Blackbird returns to Walpole Island, an Indian reserve on the Canadian side of the channel where he once lived with his brothers, one now in prison, the other dead.Blackbird contemplates transitioning into civilian life on Walpole Island Realizing how ridiculous this would be, he s held up by Richie Nix, a punk ex con with a motor mouth and a hair trigger temper Busy breaking into houses and trashing the ones without anything to steal, Richie cooks up a protection racket, planning to blackmail a successful local realtor with continued property damage unless he pays up Needing a partner, Richie lets Blackbird in on the scam Killshot introduces some heart and soul with Wayne and Carmen Colson, an empty nest couple in their forties Wayne is an ironworker who s welded together most of Detroit s highrises Tired of waiting at home for her husband to decompress at the bar, Carmen has gone into the work force as a real estate agent Hoping to transition Wayne into a career where they can spendtime together, she gets him an interview with her boss, a successful local realtor.Visiting the realtor s office, Richie and Blackbird mistake Wayne for their victim The ironworker draws the men out to his truck, where he introduces Blackbird to a sleever bar and throws Richie through a window The thugs lick their wounds and begin to prowl around the Colsons home in Algonac Their next move is evendisastrous, with Richie turning a 7 11 he follows Wayne to into a shooting gallery Blackbird finds himself on the Colsons porch with Carmen pointing a shotgun loaded with Magnum shot at his face.With the rap on The Blackbird and Richie a federal one, the FBI offer Carmen and Wayne the services of the Witness Protection Program Carmen seizes on the opportunity to transition into a new life and new home, in Cape Giradeau, Missouri But under federal watch, the couple discover less of whatever they re looking for, complete with a sleazy U.S Deputy Marshal putting the moves on Carmen Unwilling to wait for their tormentors to be arrested, Carmen and Wayne return to Detroit to play out the hand they ve been dealt.No author makes me conscious of what a slave I ve become to plot like El Leonard does Without twists and turns at the end of every paragraph, Killshot coasts along, almost as if you were just hanging out with some particularly interesting or dangerous friends for the weekend When I realize I m hooked merely reading about Carmen Colson or Richie Nix sitting in traffic simply being Carmen or being Richie throw in professional murder, amateur racketeering and home invasion and I m riveted.Leonard s writing is frequently a laugh riotThe guy said, I ll tell you what I want I ll tell you my name too, in case you ever heard of me, Richie Nix N i x, not like Stevie Nicks spells hers Armand shook his head He d never heard of either one.Donna told him to stay out of the bars at Sans Souci, Indians from Walpole Island drank there and got ugly Oh, was that right Richie dropped by one evening and glared for an hour at different ones and nobody made a move Shit, Indians weren t nothing to handle Go in a colored joint and glare you d bleed all the way to the hospital.Her mom retired from Michigan Bell but couldn t stay away from the telephone She d call Carmen every day to give her recipes Carmen never used, or talk about the weather in detail, the arrogance of doctors who her made her wait knowing she was suffering excruciating back pain, eventually getting around to Wayne What time did the man of the house come home last night If it was before seven you re lucky, depending how you look at it If you don t mind that booze on his breath when he comes in and gives you a kiss then you re different than I am, I won t say another word Wayne said, You d have to wire her jaw shut Leonard s best work not only survives the conventions forced on it, but thrives under those conventions One of his tricks is that his wit is put to work revealing character, always Opening an El Leonard novel is like spending time with old friends This explains another trick, how Killshot builds to such a taut, exciting finish with what seems like such a routine plot Instead of reading about crimes, you re caught up finding out what s going to happen to your friends A little seen film adaptation of Killshot made it to screens in 2008 after a torturous road to release With the massive success of Pulp Fiction, Miramax Films optioned film rights to four El Leonard novels for Quentin Tarantino, a big fan of the author Those novels were Bandits, Freaky Deaky, Killshot and Rum Punch Tarantino picked the latter to adapt and direct as Jackie Brown and for a brief time, considered producing Killshot with Tony Scott directing, Robert DeNiro playing The Blackbird and Tarantino playing Richie Mickey Rourke and Joseph Gordon Levitt ultimately took those roles, with Diane Lane and Thomas Jane playing the Colsons for director John Madden, whose film sat in the vault for nearly three years while studio co chairman Harvey Weinstein s divorce from Disney was finalized and he set up The Weinstein Company El Leonard occupies each of his characters with such fluidity we forget he is even present as an author The entire cast of characters has such a unique sense of presence that the effect is cinematic Blink or skip a few sentences and you will miss a trail of inferences to be drawn from his compact writing.KILLSHOT opens with Armand Degas, a dangerously alienated criminal He is part French Canadian and part Ojibway The absence of any family members in his life is matched by the absence El Leonard occupies each of his characters with such fluidity we forget he is even present as an author The entire cast of characters has such a unique sense of presence that the effect is cinematic Blink or skip a few sentences and you will miss a trail of inferences to be drawn from his compact writing.KILLSHOT opens with Armand Degas, a dangerously alienated criminal He is part French Canadian and part Ojibway The absence of any family members in his life is matched by the absence of emotion he feels about that No one calls him Armand he s known as Blackbird His employers call him Chief A confederate will start calling him Bird He s a fifty year old hit man for the Canadian mafia who experiences killing and inebriation with equal indifference The latest hit takes him back to the area he grew up in What might seem like a midlife crisis is to him merely a nagging, inexplicable dissatisfaction Fortunately, he s rescued from the brink of introspection by meeting Richie Nix.Richie is a mix of impatient viciousness and bottomless stupidity The problem isn t lack of experience because he has no learning curve His big ambition is to rob a bank in every state of the union But then, he has his big brainstorm It s a haphazard extortion scheme.Leonard s virtuosity really shines when he inhabits his female character, Carmen Carmen has what can only be described as grit Twenty years of marriage and she can still enjoy a lusty ardor for her husband Wayne while facing life with clear sighted practicality and plausible tolerance With their only son grown, Carmen, not Wayne, repairs their handyman s dream of a houseit kept her busy, Carmen doingof the fixing up than Wayne, who was handier with a thirty five pound impact wrench than a hammer and sawp.42 Carmen assesses the people around her with shrewdness which she attributes to her study of handwriting analysis Her absence of pretentiousness is yet another appealing aspect of her character As the story will demonstrate, she s nailed her mother s characterCarmen knew her mom s hand and had not seen anything good to say about it Her uneven spaces and lack of style values showed indecision plus an inability to think clearly She couldn t tell her mom that, because her wide spaced t stem showed she was easily hurt and would take offensep.39 All of this signals when Carmen speaks, take notice.The new series of crises bursts through her previously reticent acceptance She confronts the dense but lovable Wayne after Armand enters her house and threatens herNot once have you asked me what it was like, what I felt, what was going through my mind You put your gun by the door, just in case there, you ve done your partClueless Wayne points out that she handled the situation Carmen continuesDid you think about how scared I must ve been.The FBI man, Scallen, he understood I told him I hope I never have to do that again and you said do you know what you said.You said, My wife s a winner That s why I married herIt s like you re taking credit, because you picked mep.182 Carmen s grit emerges from an initial presumption of ordinariness She earns a realtor s license, is, unsurprisingly, successful, and works for the biggest real estate magnate in the county She pitches her idea to WayneIsn t there something we can do together some kind of work or business we could both get intoand be together Despite Wayne s wise cracking deflections, she sets him up with an appointment with her employer, a real jerk, who also just happens to be the prospective extortion victim targeted by Richie and Armand And, well, one thing leads to another.What I loved about this book was Leonard s inhabiting of Carmen Below her patience with Wayne s humorous banter there is a steely resolve which is a constant thread running through the succession of tight and unpredictable situations that ensue The contrast between Carmen and Wayne provides an entertaining balance to the tension supplied by the criminal dual Does it get any better than this Killshotfive stars not because of this being my tribute to the passing of Mr Leonard but it deserved five stars on its own Great book, per usual from El Leonard El John Leonard, Jr Picture Taken September 17, 2012My tribute read for El Leonard, RIP Born El John Leonard, Jr.October 11, 1925New Orleans, Louisiana, United StatesDied August 20, 2013 aged 87 Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, United States From Wiki Leonard often cited Ernes Does it get any better than this Killshotfive stars not because of this being my tribute to the passing of Mr Leonard but it deserved five stars on its own Great book, per usual from El Leonard El John Leonard, Jr Picture Taken September 17, 2012My tribute read for El Leonard, RIP Born El John Leonard, Jr.October 11, 1925New Orleans, Louisiana, United StatesDied August 20, 2013 aged 87 Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, United States From Wiki Leonard often cited Ernest Hemingway as one of his most important influences, but at the same time criticized Hemingway for his lack of humor Mr Leonard wrotethan 49 books, numerous screenplays, TV series including Justified and adapted his books to so many movies we ve seen and recall fondly My personal favorites were Get Shorty and Out of Sight Two Goodreads friends have been personally touched by his passing Col from UK and Mohammed from Sweden both being longtime fans and I m sure feel as though they knew him personally My condolences to both my friends And let me add, my very good Goodreads friend and neighbor, Remy, who loved El Leonard, as well |FREE DOWNLOAD ♡ Killshot ♫ Armand Degas is a Mafia hit man the guys call Blackbird He is cool and composed and knows a good score So when punk crook Richie Nix tells him about his surefire scheme to extort , from a middle of nowhere Michigan real estate agent, Armand signs on What the two thugs don t count on is Carmen Colson and her ironworker husband, Wayne, being in the real estate office when they go in to collect Now Carmen and Wayne know too much and Armand has no intention of letting them survive to tell about it But Wayne s sure the local cops are going to fumble the manhunt, and the best the feds can offer is the Witness Security Program Now it s come down to one man, one woman, and two killers and someone s bound to end up on the wrong end of the gun The Visual Dictionary of Ships and Sailing from a middle of nowhere Michigan real estate agent Fact and Artifact: Writing Nonfiction Armand signs on What the two thugs don t count on is Carmen Colson and her ironworker husband The Suicide Exhibition (The Never War Wayne The Suicide Exhibition being in the real estate office when they go in to collect Now Carmen and Wayne know too much and Armand has no intention of letting them survive to tell about it But Wayne s sure the local cops are going to fumble the manhunt Language, Truth, and Logic and the best the feds can offer is the Witness Security Program Now it s come down to one man Uniform Dolls one woman Short Stories by William Faulkner and two killers and someone s bound to end up on the wrong end of the gun Wayne and Carmen Colson are regular Americans who do things well Carmen is a successful real estate agent and Wayne is an outdoor guy who is good at jobs that require physical strength While trying to save their marriage, they run into a couple of incompetent con men Richie Nix and Arman Degas who are out to extort money from Carmen s boss Donna is Richie s lonely jail warden girlfriend, whom he shares with Arman.Leonard s dialog writing is terrific He isn t really into descriptions The Wayne and Carmen Colson are regular Americans who do things well Carmen is a successful real estate agent and Wayne is an outdoor guy who is good at jobs that require physical strength While trying to save their marriage, they run into a couple of incompetent con men Richie Nix and Arman Degas who are out to extort money from Carmen s boss Donna is Richie s lonely jail warden girlfriend, whom he shares with Arman.Leonard s dialog writing is terrific He isn t really into descriptions The dialogs take the story forward I liked the way he subtly builds tension in Wayne and Carmen s marriage almost entirely through their conversations Arman and Richie are unbelievably stupid and also dangerous and some of their exchanges are hilarious Arman s an Ojibway Indian introduction in the first few chapters and his overall characterization that includes his relationship to his grandmother and her strange myths about owls and blackbirds and superpowers is really amazing The theme of erotic triangulation is one that recurs in Leonard s novels Leonard s con men are almost always sharing a woman remember Jackie Brown The Rum Diary, Riding the Rap and The BanditsMaybe Leonard is trying to make the point that men who are involved in high risk jobs feel a natural affinity toward each other as their life is constantly in danger I ve read that air force pilots usually share swap wives since the possibility of fatality is imminent The same could be the case with Leonard s con men This is a downloaded from my library was my first by this author, so I gave it an extra star for being a good introduction I don t know who narrated this the info isn t even on the audio He was good, though The story was fast paced fairly well put together There were a few times I wondered why the characters acted as they did, but not one of them was particularly normal The bad guys were psychos, the authorities stuffed bureaucrats, the victims were great Not exactly normal, but This is a downloaded from my library was my first by this author, so I gave it an extra star for being a good introduction I don t know who narrated this the info isn t even on the audio He was good, though The story was fast paced fairly well put together There were a few times I wondered why the characters acted as they did, but not one of them was particularly normal The bad guys were psychos, the authorities stuffed bureaucrats, the victims were great Not exactly normal, but I liked them They played well within a simple framework If you want a shot of fast action without a lot of thought required, El provides a great ride I ll definitely look foraudio books by this author I doubt I ll bother buying any of his books, though Part of the problem here is that El Leonard is hyped as an Important Writer, a kind of second coming of Raymond Chandler et al If I d sat down to read Killshot my first and probably last Leonard novel without those expectations, I d probably have come away satisfied by this workmanlike but generally unremarkable thriller As it was, I found myself holding him to a standard against which he doesn t even begin to compete Leonard is decent at characterization and has a nice ear for local id Part of the problem here is that El Leonard is hyped as an Important Writer, a kind of second coming of Raymond Chandler et al If I d sat down to read Killshot my first and probably last Leonard novel without those expectations, I d probably have come away satisfied by this workmanlike but generally unremarkable thriller As it was, I found myself holding him to a standard against which he doesn t even begin to compete Leonard is decent at characterization and has a nice ear for local idiom, but otherwise he definitely belongs in the supermarket checkout aisle minor leagues