The New Pantheon

Elmore Leonard

It's hard to complain about two dead TV shows when half your novels are movies.

Book Cover Octogenarian writer Elmore (“Dutch”) Leonard has published more than 40 books, mostly novels, and about half of which have been made into movies—none more credibly executed then Steven Soderbergh’s iteration of Out of Sight (1998) starring George Clooney as bank robber Jack Foley and Jennifer Lopez as U.S. Marshal Karen Cisco (and a great supporting cast including Ving Rhames and Don Cheadle).

The potent combination of Leonard’s original story/novel and the Soderbergh film makes Road Dogs (William Morrow) doubly potent. In this book, Foley (whose CV boasts robbing more U.S. banks than anyone in history), Cuban exile Cundo Rey from Leonard’s LaBrava (1983), and Cundo’s common-law wife, Dawn Navarro from 1995’s Riding the Rap, are thrown together in a psychic cage match that bends all the relationships at play: Jack and Cundo, former jailbirds who had each other’s back in prison; Cundo and Dawn, whose motives for waiting for the Cuban to serve his eight-year incarceration are not, uh, pure; and Jack and Dawn, based on what can be clinically labeled a primal attraction.

Among other things, Leonard’s writing has also spawned two TV series: one based on Judge Maximum Bob Gibbs (who makes something like a cameo in this new story) and Karen Cisco, who of course casts some shadows in Foley’s ongoing life. Both shows failed, but I’d love to see a third attempt, and Leonard certainly has proven Foley to be a character with ample reserve of charisma—though it could be problematic to cast a bank robber as the “hero” on TV.
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