Onyx reviews: Road Dogs by
Jack Foley, perhaps the most successful bank robber ever, protagonist of Out
of Sight, played by George Clooney in the film adaptation, seems to have met his Waterloo. He's facing
thirty years in prison after escaping from incarceration with a federal marshal
in the trunk of his getaway car. The only thing he's got going for him is a
reputation that will keep the gangbangers and skinheads at Glade Correctional at
In the van on the way to prison he befriends Cundo Rey (La Brava), a diminutive
killer who has millions of dollars socked away, some of it in two
Venice Beach houses. Cundo has access to the best lawyer money can buy, a
barracuda who gets Foley's sentence reduced from thirty years to thirty months
on appeal, racking up over
$50,000 in fees in the process
Foley is sprung a few weeks ahead of
his fellow road dog (a prison term for inmates who look out for each other), and
is immediately tailed by Special Agent Lou
Adams of the FBI, who is willing to stake his career that Foley can't go a month
without robbing another bank.
Foley, however, is more concerned about repaying the legal fees, because he
doesn't want to owe Cundo. Such debts are often called at the least convenient
time. Which explains why he agrees to move from Florida into one of Cundo's
luxury homes pending his friend's release. It puts him out of Adams's sightline
and installs him across the street from fortune teller Dawn Navarro (Riding
For the past eight years, Dawn has been telling Cundo she's a saint every
time he asks—and he asks a lot. Cundo is a jealous man, suspicious that
Dawn might have been cheating on him, and he now has a buddy to keep a close eye
Dawn's fidelity is the least of Cundo's worries—she has designs on his
money, and has been trying to figure out the best way to liquidate his assets
without getting caught. She sees in Foley a kindred soul, enlisting his help in
some of her psychic scams. For his part, Foley is trying to go straight, going
so far as to open a bank account, although he makes an immediate withdrawal
because he can't imagine leaving a bank without a pocketful of cash.
Leonard sets up a battle of wits among three classic protagonists. For most
of the book, Cundo's presence is felt more than seen, as he serves the rest of
his time. Foley and Dawn fall into bed with each other, but they've both been
around the block enough not to trust each other. As much as Foley likes Cundo,
he doesn't trust him, either.
Foley is still cozy with his ex-wife and has a thing for Karen Sisco, the
federal marshal he was accused of kidnapping. He and Dawn click immediately, and
he has no trouble making one of her marks fall in love with him, too. It's easy
to see George Clooney all over again.
The book is mostly about dishonor among thieves, and it's not clear for most
of it who will out-con who, and who will survive. Despite the book's dark sense
of humor, the characters are playing for keeps, and not all of them will make it
to the final page. As with most of Leonard's books, the plot is merely a
framework on which to stretch his characters, and their dialog crackles with the
sound of realism that is one of Leonard's trademarks. His ability to reproduce
ethnic jargon effortlessly is unparalleled.
At 83, Leonard shows no signs of slowing down. However, he's revisiting past
characters in a way that is atypical of his previous 40+ novels. In addition to
the primary characters, Foley's ex-wife, Karen Sisco, Harry Arno and judge
Maximum Bob all make cameo appearances.
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