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Road Dogs: A Novel Hardcover – May 12, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 194 customer reviews

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“FitzSimmons has come up with a doozy of a sociopath.” —The Washington Post Learn More
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, May 2009: Be Cool. If Elmore Leonard hadn't already used it for the sequel to Get Shorty, it would have been a natural title for this deliciously breezy follow-up to another Leonard-to-Hollywood hit, Out of Sight. You may best recall Jack Foley, as played by George Clooney, bantering with Jennifer Lopez in the trunk of a jailbreak getaway car, but when Out of Sight ended, Foley was headed back to the clink to finish a 30-year bid. Road Dogs opens with Foley on the van to prison with Cundo Rey, a pint-size Cuban who soon engineers their early release--legally, this time. Jack's happy to be out and enjoying the California hospitality of Cundo and his wife Dawn (both Leonard veterans too, from LaBrava and Riding the Rap). But Dawn is lovely and wily (and maybe a psychic), Cundo is a murderously jealous husband who may well think Jack owes him big-time, and Jack? Well, when you've robbed a hundred-twenty or so banks, is it that easy to go straight? As so often with Leonard, the real fun is less in the action than the talk, especially from Foley, the pleasure-minded, level-headed hood: an ex-con whose biggest con may be that he is exactly who he says he is. --Tom Nissley

Questions for Elmore Leonard

Q:Where did the inspiration for the title Road Dogs come from?

A: Road Dogs was on a list of prison expressions my researcher Gregg Sutter got for me: inmates who watch each other’s back. I liked the sound of the words together.

Q: What made you decide to bring back Jack Foley, Cundo Rey, and Dawn Navarro now? What is it about these three characters that stuck with you through the years?

A: Foley was played by George Clooney in Out of Sight. I imagined George in the scenes I wrote and it worked. Dawn Navarro was the psychic in Riding the Rap, a supporting character ready for a leading role. Cundo Rey from LaBrava, another favorite of mine, also deserved a bigger role, so I brought him back..

Q: Any chance Foley and the woman he loves, Federal Marshal Karen Sisco, will be back in the near future?

A: I’m not sure Foley is up to robbing another bank. But Karen Sisco, the federal marshal in Out of Sight, could show up again; maybe working for her dad, a private investigator.

Q: One of the hallmarks of your writing is your gift for the telling detail. When Foley is offering Cundo Rey’s money man, Jimmy, some advice about his skimming, he tells him that Cundo won’t kill him, but he might “break your legs with a José Canseco bat.” That’s one of those small yet wonderfully deft touches that adds color without slowing the pace. How do you do this so well?

A: Realism is the key to my style of writing and dialogue is what keeps it moving, always in live scenes. Rather than use my voice, my language, to describe what’s going on, I let the characters tell who they are and what they’re up to by the way they talk. Scenes are written from a character’s point of view, never mine.

Q: Many of your characters are working class stiffs and tough, intelligent broads. What draws you to these kind of characters? What do you think accounts for their popularity?

A: My women often upstage the guys; they’re natural, their own person, while my cops and criminals talk the way I’ve observed them through research and being on the scene.

Q: What’s next for Elmore Leonard?

A: Next comes Djibouti, with Dara Barr, a documentary filmmaker with the Somali pirates off the coast of East Africa.

From Publishers Weekly

Leonard launches three characters from previous novels on a collision course in this seemingly effortless performance. After prison buddy Cundo Rey (last seen in LaBrava) drops a bundle on a shark attorney, celebrity bank robber Jack Foley (from Out of Sight) gets his 30-year prison sentence reduced to 30 months. Jack's quickly back in the world, living large in one of Cundo's two multimillion-dollar houses in Venice, Calif., juggling a fast seduction with fortune-teller (from Riding the Rap) Dawn Navarro (who is now Cundo's lady) and the untoward attention of rogue FBI agent Lou Adams, who's waiting for Foley to rob another bank. While Dawn tries to enlist Foley in a scheme to steal Cundo's off-the-books fortune, Cundo surprises them with an early release. Betrayal simmers while Foley considers going semi-straight—with the help of a widowed starlet—Dawn hatches a plan that could get her rich and rid her of all her problems, and Cundo's associates and neighborhood toughs get sucked into the fray. The plot isn't as tight as it could be, but Leonard's singular way with words is reason enough to read it. (May)
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When Foley Meets Cundo
Read the first chapter of Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard [PDF]. Note to readers: contains explicit language.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061733148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061733147
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #354,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kevin Joseph VINE VOICE on May 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Jack Foley and Cundo Rey, the titular "road dogs," form a bond in prison that ties their fates after release. Enter Dawn Navarro, a psychic grifter who has acted the part of Cundo's dutiful wife during his eight-year prison sentence, patiently biding her time for the opportunity to steal his sizable fortune from him. When Foley is released from prison before Cundo, and becomes Dawn's lover and would-be accomplice, the stage is set for a triangular struggle that pits the road dogs' buddy-bond against their feelings for Dawn and against Dawn's own ambitions. A subplot involving Lou Adams, an FBI agent who is stalking Foley in the hope of catching him in a bank robbery so that he can find a compelling ending to a book he's writing about America's most accomplished bank robber, adds another entertaining dimension.

As is typical of an Elmore Leonard work, its main strength lies in the hip, streetwise banter between this trio of hustlers and in the conflict between their loyalties to one another and their rising distrust. The plot, unfortunately, suffers from one major flaw, which becomes harder and harder to overlook as the story unfolds: why does Dawn have to wait until Cundo is released from prison before conspiring with Cundo's money man Little Jimmy to embezzle Cundo's millions? The ending is also something of a letdown.

If you can suspend disbelief enough to overcome the lazy plotting and let yourself be immersed in the cool, hustler banter, there's enough here to keep the pages flipping.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Elmore Leonard brings back three characters from previous books for an encore performance in his latest comedic foray into the criminal world. Bank robber Jack Foley (Out of Sight), and Cundo Rey (LaBrava), meet in prison and quickly become friends, referring to themselves as Road Dogs. Rey's lawyer has arranged for his early release from prison and Rey offers her services to Foley, who's in for thirty years. She manages to get Foley's prison term reduced to 30 months and Foley is released two weeks before Rey. Rey offers Foley one of his houses in Venice Beach but admonishes him to keep his hands off his girlfriend, Dawn (Riding the Rap), a psychic/ghost hunter patiently waiting for Rey's release so she can con him out of his millions. When she meets Foley, Dawn knows he is her way to the money and tries to work her magic on him. Foley is intrigued but distracted by an FBI agent tailing him, waiting to capture him after he robs his next bank.

As usual, Leonard adroitly moves the story forward through realistic, at times quirky, dialogue and the inner thoughts of some pretty wacky people. He excels at delivering entertaining scenes of duplicity and complicity among characters on the wrong and right side of the law. Foley takes the lead in this comedy and is a cool guy who manages to stay one step ahead of those who have no qualms about taking him out, legally or illegally. The interplay between Foley and the others will keep the readers turning pages, laughing along the way. This is one fun read.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Road Dogs" is my first Elmore Leonard book so I can't compare it to any of his previous books. My review is for any others who are new to Elmore Leonard and want to start with this book. I should have been prepared, having seen the movies based on Get Shorty and Be Cool, but this book was not what I was expecting. I enjoyed it and think anyone who is already a fan of his work will love this one too.

The book is very much character driven and these people are real characters. With only a couple exceptions, they are all criminals; but even the ones who aren't criminals are at least a little bent. The three main characters are all making return appearances from previous books. I assume that anyone who has read those books will have an edge in understanding and caring about those characters. Even without reading the previous books, there is plenty of information for the new reader to get the measure of these characters - at least as much as the author wants you to know. There is always a question in your mind as to whether they are sincere in what they are saying or if (when?) they're going to turn on each other. It takes a lot of talent to turn a bunch of criminals into characters a reader cares about but the author does just that. Jack, Cundo, Dawn and Little Jimmy are much more likeable than Lou Adams and the few other "straight" characters.

This is not a book with long descriptive passages of elegant prose. The reader primarily learns about the characters and the locations by what the characters say, do and think. When they speak, they have very distinctive voices. I'm not sure there is a physical description of Jack Foley.
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My credentials for reviewing Elmore Leonard are simple--I enjoy this genre, read lots of it and I go way back with Elmore. I started reading him with "Fifty-Two Pickup." (A great book.)

I haven't read every Elmore Leonard but in general he is very reliable for great dialogue (it's required that you mention this) and terrific plots with vivid, distinct characters.

My consumer cautions on "Road Dogs" are precisely two.

Number 1: not much happens.

Number 2: this is mostly talk.

Okay, a third: if you don't know these characters from previous books, you may be even less interested or less dialed-in to what's going on.

As a stylist, you still can't beat Leonard's rich, word-perfect dialogue and "Road Dogs" is full of it.

I'd recommend for Leonard completists only.
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