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Maximum Bob

Maximum Bob

3.6 10
by Elmore Leonard

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Skirt-chasing, orchid-raising Florida judge "Maximum" Bob Gibbs has made a career of oversentencing convicted felons. He's thrown the book at so many that it's beginning to look like one of them may be planning to throw it back at


Skirt-chasing, orchid-raising Florida judge "Maximum" Bob Gibbs has made a career of oversentencing convicted felons. He's thrown the book at so many that it's beginning to look like one of them may be planning to throw it back at him. But assassination isn't the worst of the judge's problems. He's got to get his whacked-out wife Leanne out of Palm Beach--fast. For it seems she's becoming an embarrassment, what with her multiple personalities and all. So when Bob starts playing footsie with an alligator poacher in a scam to scare his wife into divorce, and a pretty probation officer named Kathy Diaz Baker catches his lecherous eye, things really start to heat up in south Florida...as bullets start flying, a gator comes crawling, and a lovely lady finds herself in a cross fire of smart crooks, foolish love, and sweet revenge.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While Leonard's latest is darker than his usual fare, it is his pace, humor and ear are as suspenseful, dry and true as ever. This Literary Guild selection spent nine weeks on PW 's hardcover bestseller list. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Leonard returns to the Florida coastline for his weakest novel since Touch (1987)—a bumpily humorous but unfocused seriofarce about a probation officer and the eccentric judge she gets entangled with. As one of Leonard's very few heroines in 29 novels, spunky Kathy Baker of the Florida Dept. of Corrections blows a whiff of fresh air into the Leonard canon—as does the outspoken, aging hanging-judge Bob Gibbs—but not enough to put the spring into a slack plot that begins when skirt-chasing Gibbs takes a fancy to Kathy as she shows up in his courtroom with probation-violator Dale Crowe Junior. Gibbs throws the book at Dale, then asks former psychology-major Kathy out on a date under the guise of her talking to his wife, a former showgirl who seems to be possessed by the spirit of a 12-year-old 18th-century slave girl. Before Kathy can visit Gibbs, however, a hugh alligator appears on his property and sends his wife scurrying for northern climes. And that's just fine by Gibbs, who turns out to have imported the gator to get rid of his loony wife. But when Gibbs double-deals Dickey Campau, who brought the gator, Campau drives out to the judge's home and shoots up the house. Which is just as well, because the shots scare off Elvin Crowe, Dale's mean and flaky uncle, who's been hired by another of the judge's irate courtroom-victims, a crack-addicted M.D., to kill the judge. Caught up in the investigation into the gator-attack and shooting, Kathy matches up professionally and romantically with cool cop Gary Hammond—until a jarring note of raw violence takes out Gary and sets Kathy up for an anticlimactic confrontation with Elvin and the M.D. Nicely realized characters,the usual smart Leonard dialogue, a few moments of brisk high/low humor—but the meandering plot lacks drive, Gibbs rolls around like a loose wheel, and the whole affair seems more like a pale Carl Hiaasen imitation than true-blue Leonard: It's all a big disappointment after Leonard's crackling last, Get Shorty (1990).

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Maximum Bob

Chapter One

Dale Crowe junior told Kathy Baker, his probation officer, he didn't see where he had done anything wrong. He had gone to the go-go bar to meet a buddy of his, had one beer, that's all, while he was waiting, minding his own business and this go-go whore came up to his table and started giving him a private dance he never asked for.

"They move your knees apart to get in close," Dale Crowe said, "so they can put it right in your face. This one's name was Earlene. I told her I wasn't interested, she kept right on doing it, so I got up and left. The go-go whore starts yelling I owe her five bucks and this bouncer come running over. I give him a shove was all, go outside and there's a green-and-white parked by the front door waiting. The bouncer, he tries to get tough then, showing off, so I give him one, popped him good thinking the deputies would see he's the one started it. Shit, they cuff me, throw me in the squad car, won't even hear my side of it. Next thing, they punch me up on this little computer they have? The one deputy goes, 'Oh, well look it here. He's on probation. Hit a police officer.' Well, then they're just waiting for me to give 'em a hard time. And you don't think I wasn't set up?"

This morning Dale Crowe junior was back in the Criminal Division of Palm Beach County Circuit Court. In a holding cell crowded with offenders wearing state-blue uniforms that were like hospital scrubs. Blue shapes standing around in the semidark. Kathy Baker recognized some of them. They'd step into the light to say hi through the wall of bars. Mostly black guys in there, they'd ask how she was doing. Kathy would shrug. Same old business,hanging out in bad company. She told Dale Crowe, holding open his case file, he must be in a hurry to do time. Two days out of jail he was back in.

"I haven't even had a chance to fill out your post sentence sheet, you're in violation."

"'Cause I went to a go-go joint? Nobody said I couldn't."

"When were you around to tell you anything? You were suppose to report to the Probation Office, Omar Road."

"They said I had seventy-two hours. I been going out to the sugar house, seeing how to get my job back." Dale turned his head to one side in the noise of voices and said, "Hey, we're trying to talk here."

The blue shapes in the dark paid no attention to him. Kathy moved closer to the bars. She could smell Dale now.

"The police report says you were drinking."

"One beer, that's all. I urine-tested clean."

"But you're underage. You broke the law and that violates your probation."

Dale Crowe junior was twenty, a tall, bony-looking kid in his dark-blue scrubs. Dark hair uncombed, dumb eyes wandering, worried, but trying to look bored. Dale was from a family of offenders in and out of the system. His uncle, Elvin Crowe, had this week completed his prison time on a split sentence and was beginning his probation.

Kathy Diaz Baker was twenty-seven, a slim five-five in her off-white cotton shirtdress cinched with a belt. No makeup this morning, her dark hair permed and cut short in back, easy to manage. She spoke with a slight Hispanic accent, the Diaz part of her, that was comfortable, natural, though she could speak without a trace of it if she wanted. The Baker part of her was from a marriage that lasted fourteen months. She had met all kinds of Dale Crowes in her two years with the Florida Department of Corrections and knew what they could become. His uncle, Elvin Crowe, had recently been added to her caseload.

"I can go to jail but I can't have a beer?"

"Listen, I spoke to your lawyer -- "

"You don't think I stop and have a few after work, driving a cane truck all day? I never get carded either, have to show any proof."

"You through?" Kathy watched him take the bars in his hands and try to shake them. "I had a talk with your lawyer."

"Little squirt, right? He's a public defender."

"Listen to me. He's going to plead you straight up, but try to make it sound like a minor violation. It's okay with the state attorney. She'll leave it up to the judge, as long as you plead guilty."

"Hey, shit, I didn't do nothing."

"Just listen for a minute, okay? You plead not guilty and ask for a trial, the judge won't like it. They'll find you guilty anyway and then he'll let you have it for wasting the court's time. You understand? You plead guilty and act like you're sorry, be polite. The judge might give you a break."

"Let me off?"

"He'll ask for recommendations. The state attorney will probably want you to do a little time."

"'Cause I had a beer?"

"Maybe ask you to do some work release, out of the Stockade. Try to be cool, okay? Let me finish. Your lawyer will recommend reinstating your probation, say what a hardworking guy you are. He won't mention you got fired unless it comes up, but don't lie, okay? This judge," Kathy said, "I might as well tell you, is very weird. You never know for sure what he's going to do. Except if you act smart and he doesn't think you're sorry, kiss your mom and dad good-bye, you're gone."

"What one have I got?"

"Judge Gibbs."

Maximum Bob. Copyright © by Elmore Leonard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Elmore Leonard (1925–2013) wrote more than fifty books during his highly successful career, including the bestsellers Djibouti, Road Dogs, Mr. Paradise, Tishomingo Blues, and the critically acclaimed collection of short stories, When the Women Come Out to Dance. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. He was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA and the Grand Master Award of the Mystery Writers of America.

Richard Poe has worked extensively in movies, television, and on Broadway. He is best known for his portrayal of Gul Evek in three different Star Trek series: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager. He has narrated dozens of audiobooks and earned eleven AudioFile Earphones Awards.

Brief Biography

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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Maximum Bob 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is interesting and funny at the same time.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
this is soooo cool
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the biggest waste of time I have ever spent reading a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A den lined with moss, you have privacy.