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Streetwise Banter Undercut By Lazy Plotting
on May 9, 2009
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.