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Summary

Ironworker Wayne Colson and his spirited wife Carmen are witnesses to a shakedown scam - witnesses who must be eliminated. Enter Armand Degas, aka Blackbird, the brains of the operation, and his partner Richie Nix, an ex-con whose highest goal is to rob a bank in every state. A lively chase ensues when the Colsons enter the Federal Witness Security Program with two bumbling but determined killers on their trail.

With its dead-on dialogue, memorable characters, and absolute authenticity, this is one of Elmore Leonard's all-time great novels.

©1989 Elmore Leonard (P)2003, 2016 New Millennium Entertainment, Phoenix Books

Critic reviews

"Masterful...gemlike...bone-chilling." ( Los Angeles Times Book Review)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Barbara
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • 18-01-18

Heart attack stuff

Talk about unbearable tension. I kept getting so worked up by the story that I just wanted to skip to the end to escape. No one can build the pressure like Elmore can. I'm going to order another one of his soon but not right away. I'll need time for the panicky feeing to wear off.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Classic Leonard, superbly written characters.

The characterisations are just superb. Very good narration too. If you like crime novels that really get into the characters, this is for you.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • 24-04-17

You can't lose something you don't have.

Not a fantastic Leonard, but still a very good one. Leonard is the master of defining 5-7 good characters, setting them all in motion and writing great dialogue as they orbit closer and closer and eventually either crash into one another or find an unnatural equilibrium. This story is basically a cat & mouse game between two bizarre criminals (One an impulsive shit-talker = Richie Nix. One an French/Ojibway Indian hit man = Armand Degas, Aka Blackbird, Aka Bird) and a middle-aged couple that probably needs to read Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. They aren't a bad couple. They probably just need a bit of marriage counseling. Oh, and they probably need her mother to move or die.

One of the great things about good or great Leonard novels is not even the main cast of characters but his ability to breath life into bit players. He has a gift for dialogue and a talent for capturing essentials about the human condition in funky misfit characters.

I'll leave my review there because if I write any more I'm tempted to expand into the nature of bureaucracy, the character of local cops, or feminism in crime novels and might just give too much of the plot away. And the surprised and twists are one of the real reasons to read Leonard.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Frogbaby
  • 28-03-17

An Excellent Elmore

The story was a little weak and not especially compelling. The characters were excellent though, beautifully drawn and compelling. Leonard's prose was spare and punchy as only he can be at his best. He IS the Hemingway of crime fiction. McLarty's performance was off the charts, one of the best I have ever heard.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Morgan raven
  • 14-03-17

Great book with one annoyance.

For some reason, the quality of the recording isn't good at all in some places and is quiet even at full volume. This doesn't ruin the book at all, but it's a tad irritating. Great book otherwise.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Charles Atkinson
  • 15-09-17

Killshot A Bit Familar, But A Fun, Insightful Read

I do enjoy Elmore Leonard's cynical and realistic view of criminals and law enforcement. So what do I mean by Killshot seeming familiar, yet fun? There are several key elements in most of his books...

-The law enforcement agencies are made up of redneck, bull headed thugs, with exception of one or two talented cops.

-Federal programs like Witness Protection are almost always protecting snitches who are guilty of equally heinous crimes as those they are ratting out. This turns out to be a real problem for the few truly innocent people in the system.

- Leonard always does a great job with character development. The bad guys are stupid and cruel, yet wise in the ways law enforcement works. And they seem to have a unique insight into human nature. Yet there is a cloud of dark humor about them that never fails to make me laugh out loud.

- The heroes here are flawed, yet charasmatic and fun to read about. Again, character development here is premium. Our heroes are a married couple. The husband is honest, hardworking and deeply devoted to his wife. But he is also a bit dimwitted, self centered and clueless about what his wife really needs. She is a caring, committed, patient wife who, after raising their son, is coming into her own. She wants, needs change, but is careful to train her husband how to bring this about without hurting him or their marraige.
Leonard's focus on both of them within the bounds of marraige is nothing short of brilliant.

As I write this review, I am reminded of what a privilege it is to read books by Elmore Leonard.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Amanda A.
  • 15-02-18

Bad recording of a great book

Skip this one... the audio is too confusing as the reader switches between tough guy voices. They all sound the same.

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  • Byron
  • 03-02-18

Immersive, poetic, well spoken and kinetic

This is a very well spoken and a very well-written book. I always enjoy Elmore Leonard and his books, and how well the books are narrated.

There is a lot of powerful imagery, short and precise dialogue, short and precise sentences and told add a very fast and immersive pace.

If I did pursue a path Of being a professor or a writing teacher, I would definitely recommend this to creative writing students.

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  • Alethea Jackson
  • 12-01-18

Thrilling.

Loved the story, loved the characters, loved the voice, perfectly read in every way. Only thing that was a bother, the volume of the reader wasn't consistent. Sometimes seeming far away, and I had to turn up or turn down the volume to accommodate.