“[Leonard has] written so many first-rate crime stories that it would be fatuous to say Killshot is his best, but it probably is anyway.”—Newsweek
The New York Times bestselling author the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette once called, “the Alexander the Great of crime fiction,” Elmore Leonard is responsible for creating some of the sharpest dialogue, most compelling characters (including U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens of TV’s Justified fame), and, quite simply, some of the very best suspense novels written over the past century. Killshot is prime Leonard—a riveting story of a husband and wife caught in the crossfire when they foil a criminal act and are forced to defend themselves when the legal system fails them from the murderous wrath of a pair of vengeful killers. When it comes to cops and criminals stories, Killshot and Leonard are as good as it gets—further proof why “the King Daddy of crime writers” (Seattle Times) deserves his current place among John D. MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and the other legendary greats of the noir fiction genre.
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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
The Blackbird told himself he was drinking too much because he lived in this hotel and the Silver Dollar was close by, right downstairs. Try to walk out the door past it. Try to come along Spadina Avenue, see that goddamn Silver Dollar sign, hundreds of light bulbs in your face, and not be drawn in there. Have a few drinks before coming up to this room with a ceiling that looked like a road map, all the cracks in it. Or it was the people in the Silver Dollar talking about the Blue Jays all the time that made him drink too much. He didn't give a shit about the Blue Jays. He believed it was time to get away from here, leave Toronto and the Waverley Hotel for good and he wouldn't drink so much and be sick in the morning. Follow one of those cracks in the ceiling.
The phone rang. He listened to several rings before picking up the receiver, wanting it to be a sign. He liked signs. The Blackbird said, "Yes?" and a voice he recognized asked would he like to go to Detroit. See a man at a hotel Friday morning. It would take him maybe two minutes.
In the moment the voice on the phone said "Detroit" the Blackbird thought of his grandmother, who lived near there, and began to see himself and his brothers with her when they were young boys and thought, This could be a sign. The voice on the phone said, "what do you say, Chief?"
"Out of town, I'll go fifteen."
The Blackbird lay in his bed staring at the ceiling, at the cracks making highways and rivers. The stains were lakes, big ones.
"I can't hear you, Chief."
"I'm thinking you're low."
"All right, gimme a number."
"I like twenty thousand."
"You're drunk. I'll call you back."
"I'm thinking this guy stayingat a hotel, he's from here, no?"
"What difference is it where he's from?"
"You mean what difference is it to me. I think it's somebody you don't want to look in the face."
The voice on the phone said, "Hey, Chief? Fuck you. I'll get somebody else."
This guy was a punk, he had to talk like that. It was okay. The Blackbird knew what this guy and his people thought of him. Half-breed tough guy one time from Montreal, maybe a little crazy, they gave the dirty jobs to. If you took the jobs, you took the way they spoke to you. You spoke back if you could get away with it, if they needed you. It wasn't social, it was business.
He said, "you don't have no somebody else. You call me when your people won't do it. I'm thinking that tells me the guy in the hotel -- I wonder if it's the old guy you line up to kiss his hand. Guy past his time, he don't like how you do things."
There was a silence on the line before the voice said, "Forget it. We never had this conversation."
See? He was a punk. The Blackbird said, "I never kiss his hand or any part of him. What do I care?"
"So, you want it?"
"I'm thinking," the Blackbird said, staring at the ceiling, "you have a Cadillac, that blue one." It was the same vivid light-blue color as his grandmother's cottage on Walpole Island. "What is it, about a year old?"
So it was two years old, or three. That was okay, it looked good and it was the right color.
"All right, you give me that car, we have a deal."
"Plus the twenty?"
"Keep it. Just the car."
This guy would be telling his people, see, he's crazy. You can give him trading beads, a Mickey Mouse watch. But said over the phone, "If that's what you want, Chief." The voice gave him the name of the hotel in Detroit and the room number, a suite on the sixty-fourth floor; and told him it would have to be done the day after tomorrow, Friday around nine-thirty, give or take a few minutes. The old man would be getting dressed or reading the sports, he was in town for the ball game, Jays and the Tigers. Walk in and walk out.
"I know how to walk out. How do I get in?"
"He has a girl with him, the one he sees when he's there. It's arranged for her to let you in."
"Yeah? What do I do with her?"
The voice on the phone said, "Whatever your custom allows, Chief." Confident now; listen to him. "What else can I tell you?"
The Blackbird hung up the phone and stared at the ceiling again, picking out a crack that could be the Detroit River among stains he narrowed his eyes to see as the Great Lakes. Ontario, Erie, Lake Huron...
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
'Kill Shot' is a fast-paced, edgy and action-filled novel with strong emphasis on character, which is what one comes to expect from Elmore Leonard. Leonard effectively paints telling portraits complete with physical details, emotions and mannerisms. These are people you can imagine existing. Yet, Leonard never short changes on plot or suspense. This book hums along. The killers are always reprehensible, but Leonard somehow makes them human, with their own particular vulnerabilities. Yet, they are never, ever sympathetic. Richie Nix is a sociopath; he only sees people as objects to be used or eliminated. The Bird is somewhat more understanding and empathetic, but he too is cold and bloodless. Carmen and Wayne Colson are a married couple who get caught up in a shakedown scam by mistake, and they end up having the two killers on their trail. Leonard does an outstanding job with the minor characters who play small but pivotal roles, such as Donna, the woman who becomes a lover to both killers; Carmen's ever-complaining mother; or the egotistical deputy sheriff. While the reader may find him or herself rooting more against the evilness of Richie or the Bird rather than for any compelling trait in Carmen or Wayne, there is more than enough tension inherent in 'Kill Shot' to make this a very good read.
This is one of Elmore Leonard's most enjoyable books. It is basically a caper involving multiple plots that intersect around an interesting couple comprised of a real estate agent ad her ironworker husband. The characters are interesting and substantive, so that you care what happens to them. I appreciated the spirit of standing up and defending yourself when the system proves ineffectual.
I found this book to have no suspense. Nwhen you were being led intona situation nothing really happened. No spectacular ending at all. Would not recommend. Perhaps i am reading too many mysteries of late.
I had been wanting to read Leonard novels for a long time and this is my first taste of the Elmore Leonard style. I am a huge fan of Quentin T I arantino and George Pelecanos, who are inspired by Leonard's novels, and I can see why so many people think Leonard is one of the best crime writers. Killshot has great characters and dialogue, which is way more important than the plot. I definitely plan on reading more Elmore Leonard novels.