Pronto (Raylan Givens Series #1)

Pronto (Raylan Givens Series #1)

3.9 61
by Elmore Leonard

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Try rounding up the usual suspects and you'll find it can't be done in an Elmore Leonard novel. Pronto is no exception. Here a fascinating array of colorful characters discovers that the Atlantic can't separate the good guys from the bad when a bookie, a U.S. marshal, and a trio of thugs from Miami's underworld pay a visit to Rapallo, on the Italian Riviera. For…  See more details below


Try rounding up the usual suspects and you'll find it can't be done in an Elmore Leonard novel. Pronto is no exception. Here a fascinating array of colorful characters discovers that the Atlantic can't separate the good guys from the bad when a bookie, a U.S. marshal, and a trio of thugs from Miami's underworld pay a visit to Rapallo, on the Italian Riviera. For twenty years Harry Arno has operated a sports book in Miami Beach, taking bets on all the pro games. And for twenty years Harry has been skimming the profits, shortchanging his silent partners, the local wiseguys. Harry is ready to retire to a villa on the Italian Riviera with his girlfriend, Joyce - maybe even marry her - when he becomes the fall guy in an FBI assault on organized crime and has to run for his life. A U.S. marshal named Raylan Givens happens to know what Harry did in Italy in '45, during the war, and why it draws Harry to return, so Raylan takes off after the bookmaker to bring him back. Years before, on their way to a grand jury hearing, Harry ducked out and Raylan looked downright dumb. It would seem he's not going to let it happen again. Or is it that he follows Harry to protect him from the Zip, a gangster in the classic style who has his own reason to see Harry dead? Pronto takes you to Italy, where it reaches a high in suspense, then returns to Miami Beach for the big finish. With razor-sharp wit, crackling suspense, and some of the most authentic dialogue in contemporary fiction, Pronto is Elmore Leonard at his astonishing best. The unrivaled master at awakening the sights, smells, and sounds of the colorful worlds he so flawlessly portrays, Leonard has once again created "an intimate, precise, funny, frightening, and irresistible mural of the American underworld." (The New Yorker).

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From sly title through breath-stopping climax to funny wrap-up, readers will relish Leonard's ( Maximum Bob ) latest roller coaster ride. South Miami Beach bookie Harry Arno has been skimming from his mafia bosses for years. After a ruthless FBI man spreads a rumor to that effect, in an attempt to get Harry to testify against his boss, ``Jimmy Cap,'' the 66-year-old bookie splits early on his long-planned retirement in Rapallo, Italy. Rapallo is soon mobbed, so to speak, as Harry is joined by his girlfriend, his new bodyguard, Jimmy Cap's Italian-born enforcer ``the Zip,'' a handful of Italian thugs and a deputy U.S. Marshal, Raylan Givens. All engage in a deadly dance before Raylan manages to get most of the good guys back to Miami, where the dance begins again. Leonard's spare language and propulsive plotting still leave room for expositions of Sicilian slang, gamblers' lingo and Ezra Pound's private life. His colorful characters work together splendidly, especially the top trio: Harry, whose drinking, posturing and willfulness endanger everybody; the lethal Zip, who models himself, literally, on Frank Costello; and Raylan, whose Stetson and apparent goofiness mask a hard past in bloody Harlan County, Ky. The only problem with the book is that it ends. BOMC and QPB selection; major ad/promo; author tour. (Oct.)
Bill Ott
It's been frequently observed that Elmore Leonard is a master at creating lovable bad guys. That's close, but it's not quite right. In Leonard's world, it's not easy to get a fix on good and bad--everyone has an angle, to be sure, and some of those angles are more mean spirited than others, but beyond that, good and bad don't make much sense. Leonard's characters aren't bad guys; they're just fuck-ups. No other word will do to describe the bumbling brigade of Miami Beach bookies, mobsters, molls, and federal agents who populate this latest lowlife farce. Harry Arno, senior-citizen bookie, is at the center of the careening action: the feds have set up a sting to make it look like Harry is skimming profits from his mobster boss (he really is skimming, but that's another story); the mobster wants to hit Harry, but the doofuses he gives the job to can't handle it; Harry, for his part, escapes to Rapallo, Italy, where he wants to retire because he has this thing about Ezra Pound (yes, that's right, a South Beach bookie with a thing about Pound--it started in World War II, but that's another story, too); then there's U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, the Shane of South Beach, who chases Harry to Italy, falls in love with his girlfriend, and insists on believing that the world is a well-ordered place. It's not, of course, especially after the fuck-ups get through with it. Leonard has been making that point for years, in novels that draw from every shade of the tragicomic spectrum. This one is lighter and funnier than most but not without an edge. Think of it as a Marx Brothers movie where people get killed.
Kirkus Reviews
Leonard toys with the crime genre now like an old tomcat with a favorite ball—batting it around with languid, skilled strokes, putting on nifty new spins. Here, with a nod to his early days as a writer of westerns, he pits a Stetson-wearing US marshal against a bunch of mafiosi, tracing their tanglings from Miami Beach to Rapallo. The Italian scenes, in fact, are Leonard's first to be set overseas and not only relieve him from his usual Miami/Detroit venue but allow him to paint moments of wanton cruelty as he contrasts the savage native Italian mafia with its tame American cousin. Representative of the US branch is Dade County godfather Jimmy "Cap" Capotorto, who's grown slow and fat but survives through the hard muscle of "the Zip," an ambitious Italian import. Jimmy Cap sends the Zip to check on veteran bookie Harry Arno, whom he suspects of skimming. Harry has been cheating, actually, and when Jimmy Cap sends a second-string hit man to kill him, Harry pulls the trigger first and is corralled by the feds, who want to turn him against Jimmy Cap. Ironically, Harry's babysitter turns out to be Raylan Givens, the same laconic marshal whom Harry skipped out on years back—and now Harry pulls the same trick again, heading for Rapallo, with Givens and the Zip following close behind. Although the Zip struts tall in his homeland and exults in shaming the pumped-up but cowardly Italian-American apprentice Jimmy Cap's forced on him, Givens shows him up by finding Harry first—and thus unintentionally goads the Zip into a coldblooded murder, a murder that Givens won't forget and that finally has him, back in the States, after squirreling Harry to safety, giving the Zip 24 hours,then 30 minutes, then two minutes, then ten seconds, to leave the county—or else. Spaghetti western   la Leonard—full of gusto and not to be missed.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Raylan Givens Series, #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

One evening, it was toward the end of October, Harry Arno said to the woman he'd been seeing on and off the past few years, "I've made a decision. I'm going to tell you something I've never told anyone before in my life."

Joyce said, "You mean something you did when you were in the war?"

It stopped him. "How'd you know that?"

"When you were in Italy and you shot the deserter?"

Harry didn't say anything, staring at her.

"You already told me about it."

"Come on. VVhen?"

"We were having drinks at the Cardozo, outside, not long after we started seeing each other again. You said it the same way you did just now, like you're going to tell me a secret. That's why I knew. Only I don't think you said anything about making a decision."

Now he was confused.

"I wasn't drinking then, was I?"

"You quit before that." Joyce paused and said, "Wait a minute. You know what? That was the second time you told me about shooting the guy. At Pisa, right? You showed me the picture of you holding up the Leaning Tower."

"It wasn't at Pisa," Harry said. "Not where I shot the guy."

"No, but around there."

"You're sure I told you about it twice?"

"The first, time, it was when I was working at the club and we went out a few times. You were still drinking then."

"That was what, six or seven years ago."

"I hate to sayit, Harry, but it's more like ten. I know I was almost thirty when I quit dancing."

Harry said, "Jesus Christ," figuring that would be about right, if Joyce was around forty now. Getting up there. He remembered her white skin in the spotlight, dark hair and pure white skin the only topless dancer he ever knew who wore glasses while she performed; not contacts, real glasses with round black rims. For her age Joyce still looked pretty good. Time went by so fast. Harry had turned sixty-six two weeks ago. He was the same age as Paul Newman.

"You ever hear me tell anyone else?"

Joyce said, "I don't think so." And said right away, "If you want to tell it again, fine. It's a wonderful story."

He said, "No, that's okay."

They were in Harry's apartment at the Della Robbia on Ocean Drive listening to Frank Sinatra, Frank and Nelson Riddle driving "I've Got You Under My Skin," Harry speaking quietly, Joyce looking distracted. Harry all set to tell her about the time in Italy forty-seven years ago and then ask -- this was the decision he'd finally made -- if she would like to go there with him the end of January. Right after the Super Bowl.

But now he wasn't sure he wanted to take her.

For as long as he'd known Joyce Patton -- Joy, when she was dancing topless -- he had always wondered if he shouldn't be doing better.

Harry Arno was grossing six to seven thousand a week running a sports book out of three locations in South Miami Beach. He had to split fifty-fifty with a guy named Jimmy Capotorto -- Jimmy Cap, Jumbo -- who had a piece of whatever was illegal in Dade County, except cocaine, and he had to take expenses out of his end: the phones, rent, his sheet writers, various incidentals. But that was okay. Harry Arno was skimming a thousand a week off the top and had been doing it for as long as he had wiseguys as silent partners, going back twenty years. Before Jumbo Jimmy Cap there was a guy named Ed Grossi and before Grossi, going all the way back forty years, Harry had worked for S & G Syndicate bookies as a runner.

The idea originally was to get out of the business at sixty-five, a million-plus socked away in a Swiss bank through its branch in the Bahamas. Then changed his mind when the time came and kept working. So he'd quit at sixty-six. Right now the football season was in full swing and his customers would rather bet the pros than any other sport except basketball. Put down anywhere from a few hundred to a few grand -- he had some heavy players -- and watch the games on TV that Sunday. So now he'd wait until after the Super Bowl, January 26, to take off. Three months from now. What was the difference, retire at sixty-five or sixty-six, no one knew how old he was anyway. Or his real name, for that matter.

Harry Arno believed he was a hip guy; he kept up, didn't feel anywhere near sixty-six, knew Vanilla Ice was a white guy; he still had his hair, parted it on the right side and had it touched up every other week where he got his hair cut, up on Arthur Godfrey Road. Joyce now and then would arch her back, look up at him, and say, "We're almost the same height, aren't we?" Or she'd say, "What are you, about five seven?" Harry would tell her he was the height of the average U.S. fighting man in World War Two, five nine. Maybe a little less than that now, but in fairly good shape after a near heart attack, a blocked artery they opened with angioplasty. He jogged up and down Lummus Park for most of an hour every morning the Della Robbia. and the rest of the renovated Art Deco hotels on one side of him, the beach and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, hardly anyone outside yet. Most of the old retired people were gone, the old Jewish ladies with their sun hats and nose shields, and the new inhabitants of South Beach, the trendies down from New York, the dress designers and models, the actors, the stylish gays, didn't appear on the street before noon.

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

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Pronto 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
McCarthy92 More than 1 year ago
This is only my third Leonard novel so don't take my next line that seriously, but Pronto may be among his best work. Part of it comes from the fact that I love the show Justified and also because Pronto is such a great book. Characters, dialogue, prose, this book has it all. Definitely recommend it.
OB-at-OTR More than 1 year ago
Fans of Elmore Leonard already know about this book but I recommend it for fans of the TV series 'Justified.' The book gives some insight to the Raylon Givins character and some of the episodes of the show. However, be aware that the Timithoy Oliphant character on TV is not quite the same as how Leonard envisioned the character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy the tv series "justified" you will enjoy this first book in Elmore Leonard's "Raylan Givens" series.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bought for $3.99 on the Kindle app. What in the world with the high cost on nook? The 2nd book, riding the rap, is also cheaper on Kindle, though not that big of a difference. This book grabs you quickly, keeps you entertained, is easy to read, and is really just fun. Leonard is a great writer as the reviews say. I wasnt disappointed.
Zed1955 More than 1 year ago
Great characters, good read.
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Colliemom59 More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of the show Justified so I wanted to read the books that the show was based on. I was not disappointed!
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
Pronto is the book that introduces Raylan Givens from the TV series, Justified.  It's a great mob versus the 'good guy' story.  Raylan tends to do everything 'his way' and on his own moral judgments.  When a bookie, Harry, is set -up by the Feds to draw in more bad guys, Raylan decides that 'fair is not fair' here.  Raylan goes off to Italy to 'bring back' the bookie, and to save him from a mob hit. The character descriptions are marvelous, and Raylan's 'biography' is apply drawn throughout the story as he gets to know Harry's girlfriend---soon to be Raylan's girlfriend.  The bad guys range from those looking for any little excuse to kill people, to the big talkers who wimp out when the action calls for gunfire. Scenes in Italy are interspersed with stories of the poet, Ezra Pound.  Beauty for one person becomes boredom and confusion for others.  Like all great 'bad versus good' hero stories, the good guys win in the end!!  If you like the TV series, this is a must read for you!!!
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Love the show love the books more
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lovenook More than 1 year ago
Loved this book, want to read more about these people