RUM PUNCH by Elmore Leonard
Kirkus Star



Leonard's 30th novel--a thicket of sting and countersting--finds him in fine fettle, his piquant characters aging along with him but losing none of their edge as they look for that one big score before death shuts them down. Here, it's $500,000 in illegal arms-dealing profits that has everyone running in circles. The trouble is, it's stuck in the Bahamas, and slick, middle-aged gun-runner Robbie Ordell can't figure out how to get it back to Miami, even with the help of his old ex-con pal Louis Gara. Robbie had been using stewardess Jackie Burke, 44, to bring in the cash at $10,000 a flight, but now Jackie's been nabbed by two cops who are trying to lever her against him. And Jackie has designs of her own on the money, designs that depend on the aid of Bogartlike bail-bondsman Max Cherry, an ex-cop who's finding that, at age 57, "writing paper" on sleazy cons just doesn't kick like it used to--especially after the mob has muscled in on his business, and after Robbie has blown away a punk he'd had Max bail out of jail. An attempted theft by Robbie, his blowzy moll, and Louis of the arms cache of a local neo-Nazi offers a cathartically bloody interlude, but the story surfs primarily on a tide of tension arising from Jackie's tricky plan to work both sides of the law to get the cash--persuading both Robbie and the cops to let her bring in the money in one last run, while claiming loyalty to both. Meanwhile, Max falls hard for Jackie; but as her sting--a complicated shuffling of money-laden and empty bags--nears, will he decide to togs away a lifetime of law-enforcement, even for a prize as rich as the sexy-cool stewardess and her promised loot? Leonard's control of this complex scenario and its brilliantly realized actors is breathtaking. Like the title says, it's a heady brew.
Pub Date: Aug. 3rd, 1992
ISBN: 0060082194
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1992


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