Thursday, September 1, 2016

August's Best Read

You know how when you go on vacation and you fall behind in the everyday stuff you have to do so when you come home there’s that all backed up but you still have to stay current with what’s going on and another major event is on the horizon that’s sucking away much of your attention and energy so you really don’t have as much time for purely recreational stuff as you might ordinarily? That was August.

LaBrava, Elmore Leonard. The problem with falling in love with a writer as prolific as Leonard is that it’s hard to go back and look at some of his older stuff as long as he kept cranking out new. Then he stops and it reminds you of favorites it’s been too long since you read. I scored a used copy of a three-book Leonard compilation a few months ago; LaBrava was the first in the collection, and one of the handful I’ve never read. Now I’ve read it, and it’s as good as I’d heard. All the usual Leonard stuff is there: the offbeat hero and his even more offbeat foil, the strong female characters, the finding out the villain isn’t quite where you were looking. And the dialog. Leonard’s dialog isn’t the kind of thing well suited for excerpting in a piece like this. He didn’t write great lines so much as he wrote great conversations. His narrative is to the point without being spare and no one was better at leaving out the parts the reader might be inclined to skip. (Duh.) If you’ve never read LaBrava, you should. If you’ve never read Leonard, damn right you should. And if you have, reading him again is never a bad idea.

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