Be Cool, by Elmore Leonard

Sequel to "Get Shorty", in which our hero Chilli Palmer, trying to come up with a plot for his third film, gets into the music business and finds himself managing a rock group.

Another good one: took a little while to get going but when you get to know the characters there's no stopping it. Another good criminal couple in the shape of Raji and Elliot, who reminded me a bit of Ricky and Armand from KillShot: one of them is dim but ostensibly in charge, while the other is much more measured and for one reason or another tolerates his partner. But they're not the same people at all, and again I'm struck by how Leonard is able to construct characters who are not just the same cardboard cut-outs from one book to the next.

Another one where the plot seemed to come from nowhere. Like Layer Cake, which I read before this one, there was an author interview at the end of Be Cool. Leonard himself said that he doesn't have a particular plot in mind when he writes: he lets the characters interact and steps back to see what happens. The plots are so good it's hard to believe that, but it certainly feels that way when you're reading. Unlike JJ Connolly, Leonard is interesting to listen to and has a lot more awareness of what he's doing, and how he's crafted the books.

There was a scene in the book which, although funny, was I thought a bit contrived and implausible: when Chilli is threatened by some Russian mafia guys, he engineers a meet between them and a rap band who think that Chilli owes them money, having told the rappers that the Russians have stolen their money. Pretty much everyone gets shot at the meeting, except Chilli, which neatly removes both monkeys from his back.

Good read though.

Completed : 25-Aug-2006 (audiobook)

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