Review- Leonard, “Maximum Bob”

Elmore Leonard, “Maximum Bob” (1991) – This is the first Elmore Leonard I’ve read, and it lives up to expectations. It maybe doesn’t live up to all the accolades thrown at Leonard over his long career, but it’s pretty good. A tale of low life in south Florida, Maximum Bob is the nickname of a local judge, a sleazeball named after his preference for maximum sentences. In classic noir style, it all starts with a simple, if poorly-conceived plan to avoid hard conversations- get a con to sneak a dead alligator onto his property so his wife, who has a phobia (beyond the normal fear) of the critters, will leave. The wife has been increasingly going off the deep end of spirituality, claiming that she shared a body with the soul of a little slave girl (imagine the trouble she’d get in if she were a poster twenty years later!). Of course, the plan goes wrong, and draws in a number of characters in and around the south Florida demimonde. The main “good” characters are a handsome pair, a lady probation officer and a dude cop, who obviously get together while trying to figure out what’s going on with the judge, people shooting at the judge, the alligator, and the judge’s wife. They’re generally less interesting than the Florida Men on both sides of the law populating the tale. And I gotta say… after reading James Ellroy, this story feels a little tame, a little easy. But still, pretty good, and I plan on looking up more Leonard in the future. ****

Review- Leonard, “Maximum Bob”

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