Freaky Deakyby Elmore Leonard
Freaky Deaky is a contemporary classic from the reigning king of the hard-boiled crime novel. Elmore Leonard's cast is as convincing as any he's ever assembled: a band of untamed survivors of the tumultuous '60s, determined to keep the revolution going. Armed with a seemingly foolproof plot, they go on a bombing spree for revenge and profit. But their caper takes more than one wrong turn -- and more than one life.
"Intriguing, smart and funny... A sexy dance all the way." (The New York Times)
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Chris Mankowski's last day on the job, two in the afternoon, two hours to go, he got a call to dispose of a bomb.
What happened, a guy by the name of Booker, a twenty-five-year-old super-dude twice-convicted felon, was in his Jacuzzi when the phone rang. He yelled for his bodyguard Juicy Mouth to take it. "Hey, Juicy?" His bodyguard, his driver and his houseman were around somewhere. "Will somebody get the phone?" The phone kept ringing. The phone must have rung fifteen times before Booker got out of the Jacuzzi, put on his green satin robe that matched the emerald pinned to his left earlobe and picked up the phone. Booker said, "Who's this?" A woman's voice said, "You sitting down?" The phone was on a table next to a green leather wingback chair. Booker loved green. He said, "Baby, is that you?" It sounded like his woman, Moselle. Her voice said, "Are you sitting down? You have to be sitting down for when I tell you something." Booker said, "Baby, you sound different. What's wrong?" He sat down in the green leather chair, frowning, working his butt around to get comfortable. The woman's voice said, "Are you sitting down?" Booker said, "I am. I have sat the fuck down. Now you gonna talk to me, what?" Moselle's voice said, "I'm suppose to tell you that when you get up, honey, what's left of your ass is gonna go clear through the ceiling.
When Chris got there a uniform let him in. There were Thirteenth Precinct cars and a Tactical station wagon parked in front of the house. The uniform told Chris that Booker had called 911. They radioed him here and when he saw who it was he called Narcotics and they jumped at it, a chance to go through the man's house wide open with theirdog.
A guy from Narcotics who looked like a young vagrant told Chris that Booker was a success story: had come up through the street-dealing organizations, Young Boys Incorporated and Pony Down, and was now on about the third level from the top. Look around, guy twenty-five living in a home on Boston Boulevard, a mansion, originally owned by one of Detroit's automotive pioneers. The guy from Narcotics didn't remember which one. Look how Booker had fucked up the house, painted all that fine old oak paneling puke green. He asked Chris how come he was alone.
Chris said most of the squad was out on a run, picking up illegal fireworks, but there was another guy coming, Jerry Baker. Chris said, "You know what today is?" And waited for the guy from Narcotics to say no, what? "It's my last day on the Bomb Squad. Next week I get transferred out." He waited again.
The guy from Narcotics said, "Yeah, is that right?"
He didn't get it.
"It's the last time I'll ever have to handle a bomb, if that's what we have, and hope to Christ I don't make a mistake."
The guy still didn't get it. He said, "Well, that's what Booker says it is. He gets up, it blows up. What kind of bomb is that?"
"I won't know till I look at it," Chris said.
"Booker says it's the fucking Italians," the guy from Narcotics said, "trying to tell him something. It makes sense, otherwise why not shoot the fucker? Like we know Booker's done guys we find out at Metro in long-term parking. Guy's in the trunk of his car, two in the back of the head. Booker's a bad fucking dude, man. If there was such a thing as justice in the world we'd leave his ass sitting there, let him work it out."
Chris said, "Get your people out of the house. When my partner gets here, don't stop and chat, okay? I'll let you know if we need Fire or EMS or if we have to evacuate the houses next door. Now where's Booker?"
The guy from Narcotics took Chris down the hall toward the back of the house, saying, "Wait'll you see what the spook did to the library. Looks like a fucking tent."
It did. Green-and-white striped parachute cloth was draped on four sides from the center point of the high ceiling to the top of the walls. The Jacuzzi bubbled in the middle of the room, a border of green tile around it. Booker sat beyond the sunken bath in his green leather wingback. He was holding on to the round arms, clutching them, fingers spread open. Behind him, French doors opened onto a backyard patio.
"I been waiting," Booker said. "You know how long I been waiting on you? I don't know where anybody's at, I been calling you see Juicy Mouth?"
"Who's Juicy Mouth?"
"Suppose to be guarding my body. Man, I got to go the toilet."
Chris walked up to him, looking at the base of the chair. "Tell me what the woman said on the phone."
"Was the bitch suppose to be in love with me.
"What'd she tell you?"
"Say I get up I'm blown up."
"Is that all? Man, that's final, that's all there is all, nothing else."
Chris said, "Yeah, but do you believe it?"
"Asshole, you expect me to stand up and find out?"
Meet the Author
Elmore Leonard wrote more than forty books during his long career, including the bestsellers Raylan, Tishomingo Blues, Be Cool, Get Shorty, and Rum Punch, as well as the acclaimed collection When the Women Come Out to Dance, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty and Out of Sight. The short story "Fire in the Hole," and three books, including Raylan, were the basis for the FX hit show Justified. Leonard received the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He died in 2013.
- Bloomfield Village, Michigan
- Date of Birth:
- October 11, 1925
- Place of Birth:
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- B.Ph., University of Detroit, 1950
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I've read and enjoyed quite a few stories from Elmore Leonard, however, Freaky Deaky left me with a sour taste in my mouth. It seems as if he ran out of time to fully close the story. It was filled with Leonard's usual mix of interesting and surprising characters, his usual dose of "three can keep a secret if two are dead," and the usual mix of Leonard's humorous burnouts. The build was there, but coming up on the last 15 pages, I started wondering what master-stroke of a close Leonard had in mind... and will always keep wondering long after I put the book next to the other battered titles in my collection. The conclusion was a weak disappointment, and I found myself looking in the publisher's notes to see if this was an edition editted by Tipper Gore. To my surprise, my copy was exactly as Leonard had written it...
This was the first Elmore Leonard book I ever read, and I was sucked in immediately. The novel evokes a kind of movie feel to it, and I began to cast the book in my mind with people who would bring the characters to life on the big screen. It could have used a little more action, but overall it was a very enjoyable read, one that I will remember like a great movie.