Thursday, April 1, 2010

Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard **

Jack Foley robbed 127 banks. Cundo Rey was released from a Cuban jail. Dawn Navarro is spiritualist con-artist. FBI Agent Lou Adams is writing a novel. Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard is a novel of characters - Jack, Cundo, and Dawn are all recycled from earlier books.

They are all introspective, spending a lot of time talking to themselves and reminiscing. They're neurotic without any motives or emotions I could identify. Jack thinks he might retire to Costa Rica, but mostly he can't make up him mind about anything, expect for the few opportunities he gets to kill or main. In these cases he act decisively.

Cundo Rey wants everyone to love, honor and obey him, but none of his actions, mostly interrogations and threats, forward this goal. Mostly he tells people how they should behave, reinforcing the reality that he has no connection or empathy with anyone.

All this not with standing, the title Road Dogs refers to a hypothetical (ironic) bond between Jack and Cundo as two cons who met in prison. The title is a classic example of the writerly sin of telling, not showing.

In a similar mold, Dawn is also lost in a fog of vague dreams and ill-formed plans. She waits eight years for Cundo to be released from prison, so she can rob him with no idea how to do it. Like Jack, her actions rarely relate to her aspirations or make much sense, except when she gets an opportunity to kill.

While billed as a thriller, Road Dogs is more a character study of those criminals that provide material for the Dumb Criminal blogs. If that is your interest, this is your book.

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