by Elmore Leonard (William Morrow, 262 pages, $26.99)
Jack Foley has robbed 127 banks. Or 176. Or more than 200. It depends on whom you ask.
Go with the low number and Foley is still the most prolific bank robber ever, making him such a celebrity at Florida’s Glades Correctional that both the neo-Nazis and the gangbangers show him the proper respect.
Good thing, because he figures he’s going to be in there for a long time.
Cundo Rey, the Cuban mobster Foley has taken under his protection, says it doesn’t have to be that way and sics his hotshot lawyer on the case. And in no time at all, with Rey footing the legal bill, Foley is back on the streets.
Go to Venice, Calif., Rey tells Foley. Make yourself at home in one of my million-dollar houses, and I’ll see you when I get out, says Rey, with just a little time left to serve on his second-degree murder conviction.
And so Foley does, wondering all the while how Rey expects him to repay the hefty legal bill.
That’s the way Elmore Leonard begins “Road Dogs,” for which he has assembled a cast of familiar characters from previous novels.
Jack Foley was the main character in “Out of Sight” (1996), and Rey had a big role in “La Brava” (1983). Dawn Navarro from “Riding the Rap” (1995) is also central to the new book.
The supporting cast includes more familiar faces: Foley’s wife Adele, federal marshal Karen Sisco and Lou Adams, an FBI agent obsessed with getting Foley back behind bars. A few other old favorites including Harry Arno and Maximum Bob get brief mentions.
For years, Leonard has written stand-alone novels, avoiding writing a series in which the main character reappears book after book. But recently he has been edging in that direction, reprising old characters with regularity and having his fun with them.
“Road Dogs” is vintage Leonard – a sly, violent, funny and superbly written story of friendship, greed and betrayal.
With his 43rd novel, Leonard is still at the top of his game at the age of 83.
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