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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
I must confess to having recently succumbed to a Leonard addiction. His style is so distinct, and so easy on the eye and ear, that other crime novelists seem flat and pale by comparison. 'Freaky Deaky' only exacerbated my condition. All the classic Leonard elements are in place: the sociopathic crim, the idiot offsider, the character who plans to get rich off the failings of other scammers, and, at the centre, a character too cool to be ruffled by anything. All these elements are realised in snappy dialogue and witty digressions on all manner of pop culture phenomena. The minor failing of 'Freaky Deaky', and one shared by many Leonard novels, is that the conclusion is not as strong as the lead-up demands: Leonard's novels sometimes seem to be all glorious wind-up and very little delivery. I also think that the typical super-cool Leonard hero is never as strongly drawn as the villains, or even as the love-interests Leonard supplies for him; it's hard to tell Leonard's heroes from one another, while the villains all stand out as individuals. But this is carping: Leonard is the best popular writer around.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've read just about all of Elmore Leonard's thrillers up to "Maximum Bob"; I've missed many of the recent ones, not for any particular reason, just haven't picked them up.
His early works -- "52 Pick-Up," "Unknown Man #89," and "City Primeval," among others -- display a very gritty, street smart view of tough guys. Starting around the time of "Get Shorty," he seemed to lose some of the grit, replacing it with sharp humor, while retaining the street smart view. It was as if he were writing with a slight tinge of Carl Hiaasen.
"Freaky Deaky" straddles those two eras. It's got the humor but also the grittiness. The plot revolves around four characters, two "good guys" and two "bad guys." (Actually, a bad guy and a bad woman.) The two good guys are police detectives formerly on the bomb squad, and the others are 60s radicals who never grew up. As in any Leonard novel, the two pairs are in a collision course toward each other, with a slam-bang climax. The dialogue crackles (Leonard has a terrific ear for dialogue), and the characters are sharply drawn.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you're planning to extort money from a multi-millionaire by threatening to blow up his house (or else) you should probably make sure of at least 2 things. First, the man you're threatening should be smart enough to understand the threat. Second, your partner, who also happens to be the explosives expert, probably shouldn't be spending most of his spare time tripping on acid. Thus Elmore Leonard sets the scene for Freaky Deaky. It's his penchant for creating characters just a quarter-turn from normal that makes his stories a delight to read.
The story opens with a lunch-time meeting between Robin Abbott and Skip Gibbs, a couple of former student radicals from the 1960s and 70s. You get the impression pretty quickly that these two people are not exactly your salt of the earth types when they fondly remember their finest moment together as the time they bombed a government building. Robin smoothly leads the conversation around to how they were both captured for their roles in the bombing, the prison sentences they served and her thoughts as to who tipped the police off as to their identities and whereabouts. She's still not happy and is after revenge in the form of a restitution payout and she needs Skip's knowledge of explosives to execute her plan.
This introduces us to Woody and Ricks, as well as Woody's chauffeur, ex-Black Panther Donnell Lewis. Now, Woody is a multi-millionaire, having inherited his parent's fortune after his mother died. She didn't like Mark all that much and he only received a small endowment, much to his eternal frustration. Although Woody has all the money, he is also an alcoholic and his brain has deteriorated to the point where he is totally reliant on Mark and Donnell.
A man with a mind like Woody's coupled with his net worth sets him up as a major target for the less scrupulous people on earth and, wouldn't you know it, Mark and Donnell just happen to be those kinds of people. Their plotting and planning from within the Ricks mansion combined with Robin and Skip's activities ensure that Woody is in for a bumpy ride. The question is, will he even notice?
But wait, I haven't even mentioned the story's protagonist. Chris Mankowski is a police detective who has just transferred from the bomb squad to the sex crimes unit. By just, I mean it's his first day, when he gets dragged into the picture when a woman walks in to report that she has been raped by Woody Ricks. The fact that a former bomb squad detective just happens to be thrust into the midst of an impending bombing may seem too coincidental to accept, but it is in keeping with Leonard's sense of irony.
Chris is by far the most complete character in the story. We learn a lot about his background, his bad luck with women, his wonderfully charming relationship with his father and his passion for his job. He is also a dangerously insightful detective who reasons problems out with startling speed, although that occasionally results in him getting himself into more trouble than he counts on. In short, he is an easy protagonist to like and I found myself quietly cheering for him.
So, from the set up, it sounds as though the story is just a simple grab for cash, doesn't it? Well, it's a grab for cash all right, but it's far from simple. You see, Robin and Skip's plan involves setting up bombs around the Ricks' mansion and then threatening to set them off unless they are paid. The problem with the plan lies in the fact that Skip is tripping on acid half the time and his attention to detail is not what it could be, with unexpected results.
Elmore Leonard sets up a hectic storyline, bordering on manic, with each attempt to carry out the extortion quickly following the last. The fact that the bad guys are a mixture of insanity and incompetence provides a strong feeling of uncertainty as to who or what is going to be blown up. There are too many humorous moments to call this a thriller, but there is also too much drug-taking and violence to describe it as a light-hearted caper. I think "black comedy" is the most fitting description for Freaky Deaky.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Deadly. We have this couple, Robin and Skip, two 60's radicals used to be anti-establishment, anti-the man. How things changed. Now they're ex-convicts getting ready to score a huge payback on the wealthy family that originally snitched them out. Kaboom! Deadly. In comes Chris Mankowski. The Sexy Bomb Boy. He transfers from the Bomb Squad to the Sex Crimes Division for Detroit's Finest. His very first case involving a rape leads him to a gossamers web of Austin Powder, clothes pins, lots of copper wire, a big black dude named Juicy Mouth, Busby Berkley and the Banana Dance, bushels of grass and gallons of LSD, an explosive ending, and perhaps the coolest Elmore Leonard character ever in the ex-Black Panther, Donnell Lewis. He's just wicked nasty.

Why "Freaky Deaky" hasn't been made into a movie confounds--yes, confounds--me. How can "The Big Bounce" make it to theaters before "Freaky Deaky?" Even Don Cheadle is talking about making "Tishomingo Blues." Not cool. "Freaky Deaky" is a really good story, and it's about time that a big screen version of it gets made.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the second Leonard book I've read (Get Shorty being the first) and I completed it in about a day. It was funny, poignant, dead on dialogue that runied by sense of timing when I went back to another book and the story was almost perfect. I agree with the other reviewer that the build-up was lost to a rather empty ending which kind of left everyone exactly where they'd begun. It was nice to see teh adversarial and then comraderie that emnerged between the cop, Chris and the caretaker, ex-Black Panther, wannabe criminal mastermind Donnell, that was something that rang so true I laughed as I realized how this story was like half a dozen people sitting at a round table and the focus shifting from person to person from place to place until people started changing chairs. In a way no one really shifted too far from who they had originally been---Ginger/Greta the savvy but long-term planning naive actress who may've or may have not been coerced into rape/sex with the totally mentally invalid Woody. Even she isn't quite sure what happened and what she allowed in the final analysis. I felt that it was a missed point that she didn't leap or connive her way into marrying Woody when he proposed, that would've been a kicker! Robin the vengeful Hippie is a hoot---I couldn't help but picture all of them in a movie and I think that someone like Susan Sarandon would nail RObin perfectly, a frailty, a harsh strength and cunning wrapped with a slight haze of stupidity. Donnell is of course Sam L. Jackson, Chris maybe a Bruce Willis and Ginger would've been a nice departure for Julia Roberts or perhaps a breakout role for Aisha?, Woody---Oliver Platt and Skip--I can't remember the actor's name, maybe the neighbor from Grace Under Fire? Leonard gets you into the mood of being a participant in his novels, the story twists and twists and twists until it makes absolutely insane sense and you realize that it's a lot like life. The only weak part of this was why Juicy Mouth killed Booker with Donnell (did he?)---it wa sliek this was a plot device to get Chris in but in the end it really had too much or too little to do with the central blackmail/murder/extortion story---that and the weak ending are the only reasons why this book isn't 5 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Set in Detroit, Freaky Deaky is more than a crime novel. Leonard weaves memories of the Sixties throughout effortlessly and, like Rum Punch, is as much about growing older as it is about bombs and thugs.

As usual, it's not the big things that make this Elmore Leonard novel enjoyable. It's the little things that impress, like speech patterns. He definitely has the best ear for dialogue of anybody I've ever read, and the trend of realisitic talk continues here. Each character has an individual accent and speech pattern, which helps in a novle with so many characters.

You almost forget about the crime drama with all of the human drama that goes on, and I mean that in a sincee and positive way.

However, I have to say that this is not my favorite EL novel, and it is certainly not a good starting point for anyone just getting into his world of crime. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great book, but there are others that are better. When you've written as many books as Mr. Leonard, that tends to happen.

The biggest problem is that it's just too long. If twenty or fifty pages had been cut out, then it would have been a lot tighter and would move a lot faster. That's really the only problem with the book. Overall, it's a good read and not disappointing, but something about it leaves you wanting more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Funny how things happen. First, you're a cop; then you're not. You got an acting dream; then it's more than a dream. You got some dynamite; then, it's not there. Funny how Elmore Leonard makes things disappear in FREAKY DEAKY.

You gotta like the atmosphere he creates in Detroit: kinda grungy, sort of scummy, maybe a bit too scary for suburbanites. The highways get you everywhere so quick, maybe better than L.A. And Leonard says there's more to see in L.A., but, then, he likes Detroit more, don't you know?

The plot involves stunt men, the movies, a broken down cop with smarts, and two women who might or might not enjoy sex. Depends on their mood. And, oh ya, a servant lurks around with some steeet savvy, always good to have in Detroit City.

Elmore's got a good one here. Full of tension and cop humor. It's cool, if you stay cool, seems to be his message. And when you're holding dynamite, don't you think you should be as cool as possible?

Reviewed by Larry Rochelle, author of BLUE ICE. GULF GHOST, BOURBON AND BLISS, DEATH AND DEVOTION and CRACKED CRYSTALS.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Chris is a cop in Detroit who is transferring from the bomb squad to sex crimes. He never imagines that right off the bat in his new division he will come across a victim that completely enchants him. But her complaint of rape leads him to be mixed up with a whole host of characters that are up to no good. Written in 1988, the story and characters reference much of the activites of the 60s and 70s and all somehow relate to each other and the time they spent at the University of Michigan protesting and getting high.

Leonard winds an interesting tale and creates characters that are larger than life. The best way to describe the story line is bizarre. The reader cannot anticipate what will happen next, but at the same time, the twists are not cliffhangers, but simply twists. This book is very hard to describe in that it is a quick read, but does not really suck you in. It just kind of is. It is worth the read, but I am curious to compare this to other Elmore Leonard books. I am not sure that he is for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
This was a very fun read. If this be your first book by the author its a good place to start, it takes a little while to get used to his writing style and his characters in situations, but that will pass and I found myself exited with every turning page. The characters and situations the author puts these people through are crazy, dreadful, scary and hilarious. This would become a fantastic translation to the screen with perhaps a Micheal Mann or Quentin Tarantino style to it.(Tarantino who directed Jackie Brown based on Leonards Rum Punch.) If your a fan of high thrills and crazy criminal minds you'll find this read well worthy of other crime fiction classics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Wow! what a wonderful, suspense, action packed thriller. 60's left over hippies, who would blow up buildings, banks, come back alive in 80's to extract revenge and collect booty from two rich brothers, snobs, and one a hopeless drunk. But they did not count on a energetic selfless honest cop who is also an expert in assembling and disassembling bombs. The last scene, a masterpiece, will keep you on the edge of the seat and all one has to do is keep turning the pages. It ends with a bang and the charectors reverberate long after you finish the book. Elmore Leonard's tour de force. A book begging to be a movie.
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