Potted Reviews – The Hunted by Elmore Leonard and Blitz by Ken Bruen

The Hunted by Elmore Leonard – Al Rosen is on the run in Israel from some bad gangster colleagues back home in Detroit. So when he plays good Samaritan and rescues people from a hotel fire he draws a lot of attention upon himself – including several hitmen from the mob. And when his duplicitous lawyer turns up with a kiss-off payment from his former business colleagues, Rosen knows he’s going to need to do a lot just to avoid being killed so he can get his hands on the money. So when chance throws a bored and soon-to-be-retired marine his way, he eyes his opportunity to get his money back and deal with those who are after him.

This is the first Elmore Leonard that I’ve read in a couple of years, and it’s always easy to forget just how much of a pleasure he is to read. Cannily constructed plots, sharply drawn characters and dialogue most of us would probably sell our souls to be able to write half as well. The pacing is beautiful and there are surprises galore on the way to a very satisfying finale. Personally, I think the 70s Leonard’s are his finest works and this (written in ’77) is one of his best. Superb stuff from a master!

Blitz by Ken Bruen – A very deluded, but media-savvy serial killer calling himself Blitz is hunting the police and executing them. He has eyes for Sergeant Brant, Roberts and the rest of their pretty corrupt team.

This is my first Bruen, and I liked it a lot. The story is so compelling the pages practically turn themselves. The clipped, spare prose, which makes Elmore Leonard (hardly renowned for flowery sentences) look like Henry James in comparison, is a joy to read. And the characters might be a pretty shitty lot, but they look out for their own (even a scumbag like Brant). The South London setting is also very well realised and Bruen has a great feel for London geography. Highly recommended.

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