Bandits by Elmore Leonard

Bandits titleBandits was the second read in my recent Leonard binge. It was the best so far. I liked the set up, the characters and the way the plot unfolded and reached a climax.

Not quite rehabilitated jewel thief Jack Delany works at his brother-in-law’s funeral parlor. No way does he do any of the embalming and other prep, but he drives the hearse to pick up dead bodies and works as a gofer around the place. When he’s asked to pick up a body from the leper hospital, he really doesn’t want to go, but the brother-in-law prevails.

The body, it turns out, is not dead. Jack is supposed to smuggle the ex-girlfriend of a Nicaraguan Contra colonel who has vowed to kill her. Lucy, a nun, or rather ex-nun as Jack finds out  soon enough, accompanies Jack in the hearse. She gives him a quick run down of why his previous skill set might come in very handy in making sure the ruse works.

What follows is a fast and funny romp against the backdrop of the Reagan administration’s overt and covert aid to the Contras to overthrow the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. There are ultra-rich conservatives who donate cash to defeat communism, crooked Contras who think living in Miami with the donated cash is preferable to Managua and the former jailbirds Jack recruits to steal the cash from the Contras.

Leonard’s dialog really shines in this novel. It’s tight and funny. It made me laugh out loud several times.

Share: Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on FacebookPrint this page