Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Switch (Elmore Leonard, 1978)

Last Wednesday was the first anniversary of Elmore Leonard's death and what better way to pay maestro a respect than reading one of his novels? Had this one sitting on my shelf for several weeks and it was perfect time to check it out.

It's a story about kidnapping that goes wrong (as all kidnappings eventually do). This time the fuck-up happens because the husband doesn't really want his wife back (furthermore, he prefers her dead) and also - to be honest - because Louis and Ordell are hardly some hard-core professional bad-ass criminal types.

A bit crazy, full of weird (and black) humor that fluctuates between thriller and (almost) comedy. At times pretty unreal and even unbelievable but story somehow holds water. At least I was unable to find some big plot holes or inconsistencies.

It's of course all about the characters, nobody (except Willeford) does them better than Elmore Leonard. Once again it was such a joy to follow their introductions (or audition as Leonard used to call this stage) and further developments. Felt like the author really liked them and had lots of fun with moving them around like figures on the chessboard, disposing them (Marshall) or introducing some new ones (Melanie). My only little criticism would be regarding Frank because he really is a bit too cartoonish and stereotyped asshole yuppie.

Not Leonard's best work but still immensely enjoyable.

4/5

Facts:

Hero
No central hero in this one. At first I liked Ordell (probably because Samuel L. Jackson was so cool in Jackie Brown), then I started to cheer for Mickey (she liked George Carlin btw) but at the end I think Melanie won over them all.


Location
Detroit and shortly Bahamas

Body count: 1 + one critically wounded police officer

Dames
Mickey, the tennis wife and double-crossing Melanie

Blackouts: /

Title: 
Kidnappers Louis and Ordell refer to the exchange of Mickey for the money as "The Switch". But it could also mean the switch inside Mickey because once she was kidnapped "She felt alive. Excited but calm."

Cover
Dark and sinister photo showing kidnapped Mickey. Pretty accurate with her wearing the white blouse and black tape over her eyes. It depicts a scene in which kidnappers first contact Frank with the ransom demand.

Cool lines: /

1 comment:

  1. Elmore Leonard was one of the best American novelist and screen writer and I am very curious to read this book.
    way2sms

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