Monday, September 9, 2013


Right there, on the list of books I've read on Goodreads, it shows the following titles by the late, great Elmore Leonard: ESCAPE FROM FIVE SHADOWS, THE BIG BOUNCE, MR. PARADISE, THE BOUNTY HUNTERS and BANDITS. I just added another title to the list: CAT CHASER.

Finished reading this one the other day and boy, is it a good one. Didn't start out that way though. Starts out with the usual Leonard lowlifes. Quirky characters, some good, some bad, some badder. Great dialogue as always but a meandering first hundred pages or so. I'm not quite sure where the story is going. Think I do but then he throws me a twist.

The story concerns one George Moran, an ex-Marine who owns the Coconut Palms, a small hotel just north of Miami. Business is good, not great but he has steady customers in one room: a piano player and the sister of a former general de Boya, who was a strong arrm guy for a now deposed Latin American dictator.

Moran gets an itch to take a trip to the Dominican Republic, where he served with the U.S. Marines during a brief uprising in the mid-1960s. He was shot at by a sniper who turned out to be a teenage girl. Moran wants to see if he can find the girl, now all grown up. He puts an ad in the paper and signs it "Cat Chaser", the name of his rifle squad from the old days.

Moran doesn't find the girl but he finds a sleazy guy, name of Rafi, who claims he can put Moran in touch with her. Moran also meets Mary, current wife of ex-general de Boya. Moran and Mary are hot for each other. Very hot.

Back in the states, Moran urges Mary to leave de Boya. She plans to but before she can execute her escape, some other things get in the way. Things like Rafi, who has followed Moran and Mary back to the states with blackmail on his mind. He knows Mary is de Boya's wife. Figures there's money to be made.

Other guys know there's money to be made from de Boya. Guys like Jiggs Scully, ex-cop and sometime mob muscleman and Nolen Tyner, former actor, sometime private investigator and permanent resident of the Palms.

Almost everyone wants to get money out of de Boya, legally or otherwise. Moran and Mary get caught in the middle of some schemes and scams that turn deadly. Will they take the money and run or will they have to stand their ground against some very bad guys?

CAT CHASER is vintage Elmore Leonard and if you've read any of his books, you know what that means. Leonard, the old-pro, sucked me in. Even when nothing was really happening in the book, just a lot of character development, dialogue and a kind of let's-go-here, now-let's-go-there plot, I couldn't stop reading. By the time he drops the hammer and the real messy business of cross and double cross kicks in, he had me. Boy, did he.

CAT CHASER. Elmore Leonard. Thumbs up.

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