Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Review: "City Primeval" by Elmore Leonard

While the concept behind it is very amusing, writing a classic Western set in 1970’s Detroit, and for that I give Elmore Leonard a ton of credit, I feel his novel City Primeval is simply not one of his better ones. I’m still a little unfamiliar with his work. I have read only two of his books, LaBrava and this one, while true fans of Leonard have read four of five times as much as I have. He has a gift for dialogue that is unmatched, plain and simple: it paints pictures in the readers mind better than truckloads of prose can and it is just fun to look at. Maybe it is because I am spoiled with really hard-edged stuff when it comes to crime/mystery/thrillers, but I find what I have read of him so far very tame when it comes to his tone, despite his mastery at moving the plot forward. This novel begins with a string action sequence and the disturbing murder of a female by the book’s villain Clement Mansell. It’s odd to bring it up after what I just wrote, but the book’s playfulness can’t distract from the horror. Mansell is a guy whose propensity for violence and murder is only matched by the slippery ways he has gotten off in the eyes of the legal system. This motivates Raymond Cruz, an old school lawman, to do something about it, even if that means going outside the law to have his man on man showdown with Mansell. The plot is simple, a little shallow, but satisfying, including the memorable ending, very similar to the one in The Grifters. But the characters, besides Cruz, Mansell and a female detective named Maureen who works with Cruz, don’t linger in the mind after finishing it and so does the aforementioned plot. But with only two books in, I have only scratched the surface of this American original, and look forward to digging for more. 
Rating: 3/5

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