“As gritty and hard-driving a thriller as you’ll find….The action never stops, the language sings and stings.” —Washington Post
The City Primeval in Elmore Leonard’s relentlessly gripping classic noir is Detroit, the author’s much-maligned hometown and the setting for many of the Grand Master’s acclaimed crime novels. The “Alexander the Great of crime fiction” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) shines in these urban mean streets, setting up a downtown showdown between the psychopathic, thrill-killing “Oklahoma Wildman” and the dedicated city copy who’s determined to take him down. The creator of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens of TV’s Justified fame, Elmore Leonard is the equal of any writer who has ever captivated readers with dark tales of heists, hijacks, double-crosses, and murder—John D. MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Robert Parker included—and nobody then or now is better.
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About 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.
Hometown:Bloomfield Village, Michigan
Date of Birth:October 11, 1925
Place of Birth:New Orleans, Louisiana
Education:B.Ph., University of Detroit, 1950
Read an Excerpt
In the matter of Alvin B. Guy, Judge of Recorder's Court, City of Detroit:
The investigation of the Judicial Tenure Commission found the respondent guilty of misconduct in office and conduct clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice. The allegations set forth in the formal complaint were that Judge Guy:
1) Was discourteous and abusive to counsel, litigants, witnesses, court personnel, spectators and news reporters.
2) Used threats of imprisonment or promises of probation to induce pleas of guilty.
3) Abused the power of contempt.
4) Used his office to benefit friends and acquaintances.
5) Bragged of his sexual prowess openly.
6) Was continually guilty of judicial misconduct that was not only prejudicial to the administration of justice but destroyed respect for the office he holds.
Abridged examples of testimony follow.
On April 26, Judge Guy interceded on behalf of a twice convicted narcotics dealer, Tyrone Perry, who was being questioned as a witness and possible suspect in a murder that had taken place at Mr. Perry's residence. Judge Guy appeared at Room 527 of police headquarters and told the homicide detectives questioning Perry that he was "holding court here and now" and to release the witness. When Sergeant Gerald Hunter questioned the propriety of this, Judge Guy grabbed him by the arm and pushed him against a desk. Sgt. Hunter voiced objection to this treatment and Judge Guy said, before witnesses, "I'll push you around any time I want. You're in my courtroom and if you open your mouth I'll hold you in contempt of court." Judge Guy then left police headquarters with Mr. Perry.
In testimony describing still another incident the respondent gavethe appearance of judicial impropriety by his harrassment of a police officer.
The respondent had presided over a murder case in which one of the three codefendants was Marcella Bonnie. The charges against Miss Bonnie were dismissed at the preliminary examination.
Judge Guy was talking to Sgt. Wendell Robinson of the Police Homicide Section about the forthcoming trial of the codefendants and revealed how he had met Miss Bonnie in a bar and thereafter spent the night with her. He went on to say that "she was a foxy little thing" and "better than your average piece of ass."
Sgt. Robinson was quite surprised and chagrined to hear a judge boasting of his sexual participation with a former criminal defendant. As a result, Robinson prepared a memorandum about the incident which he forwarded to his superiors.
The respondent learned of this memorandum and exhibited his vindictiveness by improper and heavy-handed efforts to impair Robinson's credibility, referring to Sgt. Robinson before witnesses as "a suck-ass Uncle Tom trying to pass for Caucasian because he's light skinned."
Attorney Carolyn Wilder testified to the events in Peopie v. Cedric Williams. The charges in this preliminary examination held June 19, were "second-degree criminal sexual conduct and simple assault," and Ms. Wilder, counsel for the defense, had stated clearly that her client would go to trial before entering a reduced plea. However, the respondent, Judge Guy, requested the defendant and his counsel to approach the bench, where he stated that if the defendant pled guilty to the lesser charge of assault and battery-a misdemeanor-he would be placed on probation and that would be the end of it.
"I'm street, just like you are," the judge said to the defendant, "and your attorney either doesn't have her shit together or your best interests at heart." Whereupon he sent the defendant and Ms. Wilder out into the hail to "talk the matter over.
When they returned to the bench and Ms. Wilder still insisted on a trial, Judge Guy said to the defendant, "Look, you better take this plea or your motherfucking ass is dead." When Ms. Wilder informed the bench that her client would, under no circumstances, plead to the lesser charge, Judge Guy berated the defense counsel, threatened her with contempt and stated: "I see now how you operate. You want your own client to be convicted ... obviously pissed off because a black man got a little white pussy in this case."
Again in testimony Carolyn Wilder told how she attempted to serve a notice of appeal on Judge Guy as a favor to another attorney, Mr. Allan Hayes. The judge berated Ms. Wilder for one half hour calling her "a non-dues, honkie liberal," who had disrupted the orderly process of his courtroom.
Ms. Wilder: "At this time I asked if he was going to hold me in contempt. He did not respond but continued his berating monologue. When Mr. Hayes entered, having learned what was in progress, the judge addressed him at the bench, saying, 'I want you to explain to this honkie bitch who I am and I want her to understand I won't put up with any bullshit ego trips.'"
Sometime thereafter, the respondent, in a mellower mood, asked Ms. Wilder for a date, which she refused. Judge Guy responded to her refusal with a tasteless and insulting inquiry as to whether she was a lesbian. Thereafter, whenever Ms. Wilder came into court, the respondent would seize upon the opportunity to verbally embarrass and harrass her.
That Judge Guy abused his contempt of court power was witnessed in an incident which involved Sgt. Raymond Cruz of the Detroit Police Homicide Section.
On this occasion Judge Guy ordered a twelve-year-old student to be locked up in the prisoner's bullpen for causing a disturbance in the courtroom during a school field-trip visit. Sgt. Cruz-testifying at the time in a pre-trial hearing-suggested the judge make the boy stand in a corner instead. At this the judge became enraged, held Sgt. Cruz in contempt of court and ordered him to spend an hour in the bullpen with the boy.
Sometime later, with the court in recess, Judge Guy said to Sgt. Cruz before witnesses, "I hope you have learned who's boss in this courtroom." Sgt. Cruz made no reply. The judge said then, "You are an easy person to hold in contempt. You had best learn to keep your mouth shut, or I'll shut it for you every time."
Sgt. Cruz said, "Your honor, can I ask a question off the record?" The judge said, "All right, what is it?" Sgt. Cruz said, "Are you ever afraid for your life?" The judge asked, "Are you threatening me?" And Sgt. Cruz said, "No, your honor, I was just wondering if anyone has ever attempted to subject you to great bodily harm."
Judge Guy produced a .32-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver from beneath his robes and said, "I would like to see somebody try."
The record indicates that on several occasions Judge Guy abused members of the media by communicating with them in a manner unbecoming his office. The findings of the Tenure Commission with respect to this allegation state in part:
"Miss Sylvia Marcus is a reporter for The Detroit News. In his courtroom and before witnesses, Judge Guy subjected Miss Marcus to discourtesies of a crude nature. . .engaged in an undignified harangue about her newspaper being racist and, further, warned her 'not to fuck around with him.'"
In summary, the Judicial Tenure Commission warned:
"A cloud of witnesses testify that 'justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.' Without the appearance as well as the fact of justice, respect for the law vanishes.
"Judge Guy has demonstrated by his conduct that he is legally, temperamentally and morally unfit to hold any judicial position.
"By reason of the foregoing, it is our recommendation to the Supreme Court that Judge Guy be removed from the office he holds as Recorder's Court Judge of the City of Detroit and further, that he be permanently enjoined from holding any judicial office in the future."
At a press conference following the release of the Tenure Commission opinion, Judge Guy called the investigation a "racist witch-hunt organized by the white-controlled press." In the same statement he accused the Detroit Police Department of trying to kill him, though offered no evidence of specific attempts.
Alvin Guy stated emphatically that if the State Supreme Court suspended him from office he intended to "write a very revealing book, naming names of people with dirty hands and indecent fingers.
"Remember what I'm saying to you if they suspend me," Guy added. "The stuff is going to get put on some people, some names that are going to amaze you." City Primeval. Copyright © by Elmore Leonard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
High Noon in Detroit is a Leonard masterpiece. It has the absolute best lead in any book I've read. The crooked judge, the tough cop, the sexy lawyer, the crack whore, The Armenian, and Clement 'The Wildman Mansell' round out a cast of characters which provide nonstop energy. Get some sleep before you start reading this one, because once you start you won't want to sleep until you finish.
This is a standout among his novels.Possibly his best.It's a police procedure and it is the best written novel of his.It is just amazingly executed, very cleanly written, sharp, economical,nothing wasted, even textured and nuanced.I feel that Leonard at times goes just a tiny bit far with his other novels in order to created eccentric characters but not in this one.This is intense,menacing stuff, his best written novel.
leonard at his best, i love this author. the characters are great, the plot is great and at the end it all comes together. a real page-turner!