PAGAN BABIES by Elmore Leonard
Kirkus Star

PAGAN BABIES

KIRKUS REVIEW

Unlikely cons are a Leonard specialty, but his first 35 novels never offered a more unlikely pair than this year's jilted girlfriend and the African missionary she hooks up with.

For Father Terry Dunn, who took off from Detroit one step ahead of an arrest warrant for smuggling cigarettes from Kentucky, life in Rwanda is pretty simple. In between his occasional Masses, he lies around in a T-shirt sipping Johnny Walker Red, listening to reggae, and hearing weekly confessions. When a local Hutu admits to genocide but refuses to give himself up to the police, Father Terry gives him the world's stiffest penance before returning to Detroit even more rapidly than he'd left. In the absence of his brother Francis, a personal-injury lawyer, he has ample opportunity to get friendly and more than friendly with Debbie Dewey, a former investigator of Fran's who's just spent three years in a Florida jail for running over her fraudulent ex, Randy Agley, with a Ford Escort (though she calls it a Buick Riviera because that sounds better in her standup routine). Randy, who held up his next lady for even bigger bucks than he fleeced from Debbie, is now a prosperous restaurateur, and Debbie thinks Father Terry, who's actually a father in name only, is the perfect person to slip and fall in Randy's new place in front of lots of witnesses and offer to settle out of court in return for a hefty check for all those Rwandan babies, with maybe a slice for Debbie. Since Leonard is the Werner Heisenberg of the crime novel, things don't exactly work out that way, thanks to a Detroit mob kingpin, Terry's smuggling accomplice, Fran's unexpectedly sharp wife, and one of the dumbest hit men you'll ever meet.

A riotous several hours with guys whose idea of a suitable endearment to their latest bedmate is a heartfelt “Honey, you could be a pro.”

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 2000
ISBN: 0-385-33392-7
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2000




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