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View Full Version : TTBC September 2013: Freaky Deaky by Elmore Leonard


Falselogic
09-01-2013, 07:22 AM
Elmore Leonard was a novelist and screenwriter who specialized in crime fiction and suspense thrillers.

Freaky Deaky was published in 1988 and centers on the city of Detroit, from the publisher:

He used to be on the bomb squad, but it’s not until he transfers out that Chris Mankowski really begins juggling with dynamite. Rape and revenge are just the tip of the iceberg in a twisty tale that brings Detroit’s denizens to life—and occasional death—in all their seedy glory. Electrifying, explosive, and unexpected, this is Elmore Leonard at his suspenseful best. Leonard starts and ends his latest page turner with a bang, and between explosions we meet a vivid group of characters who are mainly veterans of the youth rebellion of the 1960s. Chief among them are Chris Mankowski, 38-year-old Detroit police sergeant, newly transferred from the bomb squad to sex crimes; Woody Ricks, alcoholic auto scion; Donnell Lewis, ex-Black Panther who is acting as Woody’s driver, nursemaid and would-be swindler; Robin Abbott, ex-con, exfugitive (she bombed a federal office building) who has plans for a million dollar movie based on Woody’s life, with help from her old boyfriend and erstwhile bombing partner Skip Gibbs, now a movie dynamite expert. The only character who does not have ties to the ‘60s is Greta (“Who’s Huey Newton?”) Wyatt, stagenamed Ginger Jones, who meets Chris when she reports that Woody has assaulted her. When Chris pursues the investigation, he is suspended from the force, ostensibly for nonresidence in Detroit but really because of Woody’s clout. Now determined to get to the bottom of things, Chris is caught up in a web of scams plotted by Robin, Skip and Donnell. Leonard (Bandits, Glitz) excels here with his trademark menace and his deadpan, throwaway humor. His superlative ear for the vernacular makes all the characters spring to life; Woody,“always in low with his dims on,” is a brilliant creation.

Have at it!

pointzeroeight
09-03-2013, 02:47 PM
This sounds good. I will have to get myself a copy.

callmejeed
09-03-2013, 03:02 PM
I'm pretty stoked to read this, though as we aren't really talking about it proper till late in the month, I'm putting off reading it because I'll likely knock it out over a weekend or something and then have to sit on my hands instead of talking about it.

Alex Scott
09-03-2013, 04:57 PM
I actually read this earlier in the year. I'll see if I can dig up another copy--I donated mine to the coffee shop, and it looks like someone else took it.

Evil Dead Junkie
09-03-2013, 05:15 PM
"Living out there with great silent majority. I know why they're silent,they don't have a fucking thing to say."

I have tp admit outside of a couple of books I've never been a huge Leonard fan. But you gotta hand it to the man, you know exactly who his characters are the second they open their mouths.

Droewyn
09-04-2013, 04:54 AM
I'm pretty stoked to read this, though as we aren't really talking about it proper till late in the month, I'm putting off reading it because I'll likely knock it out over a weekend or something and then have to sit on my hands instead of talking about it.

That's pretty much my plan. I'll start it the week of the 23rd, when I'm on vacation.

Teaspoon
09-04-2013, 06:58 PM
Hurrah, I've got a copy!

Not that I've finished last month's book yet, but I hope to polish that off and have a good start on this next week. 's been a bit odd lately.

Matchstick
09-06-2013, 04:40 PM
I'm about halfway through it. Punchy, breezy, and filled with interesting characters. No fat to be found here.

Falselogic
09-06-2013, 04:41 PM
I need to get my copy...

valhalladeath
09-06-2013, 08:35 PM
I was finally able to snag a copy. Will commence with the reading.

Evil Dead Junkie
09-07-2013, 12:03 PM
"Chris, you live half your life in a house the refrigerator's on the front porch and come up here as a teenager, I'll tell you, it's a shock to your system."

pointzeroeight
09-08-2013, 05:50 PM
Just started on this last night. That first chapter sold me on it. I don't care if the rest is awful (which after that opening, I can't see happening).

Matchstick
09-08-2013, 09:58 PM
Just started on this last night. That first chapter sold me on it. I don't care if the rest is awful (which after that opening, I can't see happening).

It does start with a bang, doesn't it? I'm so sorry.

pointzeroeight
09-09-2013, 06:56 AM
To say the least, yeah.

I'm really liking the writing style in this.

Evil Dead Junkie
09-09-2013, 02:30 PM
It does start with a bang, doesn't it? I'm so sorry.

I live that the cops pretty much are like, "Fuck it." When they fail to save the guy. They both basically shrug and go, "Look we TOLD him he couldn't outrun dynamite."

Falselogic
09-23-2013, 11:41 AM
Last week if people want to start talking about the first half?

pointzeroeight
09-23-2013, 12:52 PM
I'm still working my way through this. About 40% in and it sort of still feels like everything is being set up.

So far, I think Chris and Donnell (who is just starting to get chapters focusing on him) are my favorite characters. The exchanges between Skip and Robin border on the hilarious and the painfully awkward at times, which makes them weird to read. I dunno, the two of them are a just plain weird pair. Like Skip buying condoms so he can sleep with her, what the hell was with that scene, aside from making it very clear he's got issues.

Mark getting blown up sort of came out of nowhere and I found the handling of it rather comical, what with Woody continuing in his usual daze. "My brother passed away... Huh, was that today?"

I'm enjoying this and will be continuing to read it. Should have it done by the end of the week.

Grignr
09-28-2013, 12:32 PM
Woah, hit the ending unexpectedly because the Kindle said I was only 81% into the book. The remaining 19% is "Extras", of which 13% consists of blurbs for other Elmore Leonard works.

pointzeroeight
09-30-2013, 07:44 AM
Yeah, I got that too. The end kind of just happened unexpectedly too which didn't help. Not sure I mind it feeling like it could have continued, sort of worked for it.

Matchstick
09-30-2013, 03:30 PM
I banged through the book in the first week or so of the month, but there wasn't much chatter, so I lost track. I really dug it overall. It has the snappy breeziness that Leonard does so well. He does a lot to establish character with very little in the way of fat. It also has the elements that he has used in a few other books of his that I read in that there are disparate threads that tick along and then suddenly all get slammed together to create a giant mess that all the characters have to sort out.

Evil Dead Junkie
09-30-2013, 03:42 PM
Here's the thing about Leonard. I respect the influence he had on the genre, I like a lot of what he does in theory, and yeah dat Technique.

But I don't get anywhere near the pleasure out of reading him that I get out of Lehane, Pelecanos, Winslow, Woodrell, etc. etc. Or to be more fair by putting him with his contemporaries, say Jim Thompson, Richard Stark, or John MacDonald.

I don't know why this is. But it is.

Matchstick
09-30-2013, 04:14 PM
I don't know why this is. But it is.

I had somewhat related issue, which is what spurred me to suggest this book (in addition to Leonard's death). Every time I read something from Leonard, I enjoy it, but I'm not driven to read them that often. I got to the end of this one, and thought, "That was a lot of fun," and then promptly moved on to other authors without adding any other books to my wishlist or the like. I think it's a factor of the speed and economy of his writing that it doesn't make as lasting an impression as something like Lehane's work. To an extent, his lack of style is his style.

Grignr
10-01-2013, 05:23 AM
Reading the book, I thought "Ah, this is what Tarantino/Coen brothers are doing in their capery movies". Which turned out to be literally true when I remembered that Tarantino adapted Rum Punch.

It was funny how all the main characters turned out to know each other already (or met most the rest of the cast before the main action started, in the case of Greta). The way these characters just bump into each other at the right time is the real sign that Leonard is in fact the Dickens of Detroit.

Chris feels bad about withholding evidence but I didn't ever get a sense he thought there was anything wrong with hooking up with the victim of his first rape case. Not that Greta acted that traumatized, but Chris just gets Guy Brain whenever he sees her and thinks how hot she is. The Vietnam backstory doesn't give us any Magnum P.I./Lethal Weapon-style flashbacks (other than the original backstory one) and instead ends up goading Chris into letting his Mel Gibson out.

I was amused but it felt like a movie in novel form, like I was missing out on 90's Julia Roberts playing Greta, but I know in reality the movie probably wouldn't have been as good as the one in my head. Leonard does mention actors and Mel Gibson and Harry Dean Stanton and acting and Greta's Hollywood ambitions so that probably prompted me to try to cast the actors in my head, since it felt like the author probably had done so himself.

Falselogic
10-01-2013, 10:08 AM
Okay, feel free to go buck wild in here folks!

Droewyn
10-01-2013, 10:27 AM
So I didn't wind up reading over vacation because my mom came to visit. I started this yesterday and am about a third of the way in. I find all the local landmark name dropping a bit... distracting? I can't say I've noticed other authors being as lovingly detailed about their stomping grounds, but then again, how would I know?

Falselogic
11-01-2013, 09:14 AM
Thanks for participating everyone! be sure to check out the next book in the book club!