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34
4.3 out of 5 stars
Swag
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2002
OK, so on the face of it, this appears to be nothing more than another trashy slice of '70's 'Pulp Fiction', but start reading it, and... MAN!... What you've actually got is 229 pages of the paciest, coolest, most readable crime writing ever to flow from the pen of Mr Crime Fiction himself, the one and only Elmore Leonard.
SWAG follows the highly dubious exploits of Frank and Earnest, a couple of low-lifes out to get rich quick, introducing us to a world where afternoons are spent in summertime Detroit bars, people drive '75 Thunderbirds and real men pack powerful hand guns.
As long as they abide by their self-made 'Ten Golden Rules For Successful Armed Robbery', how can anything possibly go wrong?...
Written in 1976, this novel positively drips with the feel of that coolest of cool decades. And in true Elmore Leonard style, very little actually happens in the first half of the book, but guess what? It doesn't matter! The writing is of such a high standard, cut to the bone, stripped right down to it's essential parts, that your eyes fairly tear down the page eagerly absorbing this wonderful lesson in dialogue creation. Every budding author should read this novel as an example of how to achieve maximum impact with the minimum of words!
A mini modern masterpiece - I think it's the only book I've ever read three times! Buy it, read it and lend it to everyone you know! (Well, maybe not your mum...)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2012
For me, the characters and events are totally convincing, like they could have actually been out there doing that stuff, back then, and the dialogue rattles along, pitch perfect. I can't ask for any more than that. It's the one and only Elmore Leonard.
PS: Swag is a word that has become way overused among today's youth but is totally applicable to Elmore Leonard - the dude has swag.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2013
One of the obits recommended 'Swag' as a good introduction, so on to the Kindle it went. An excellent and easy read - nice plot twists, and a prose style reminiscent of Hemingway. Certainly inspired me to download some more!
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on 27 August 2015
Probably the least satisfying of Leonard’s books I have read. Very curious, you normally feel in such safe hands ... complete confidence in the story and enjoyment in the characters. Sometimes you feel he is writing the story waiting for his characters to develop but this always happens swiftly and with complete belief and pleasure. However, although ‘Swag’ starts well it very quickly becomes repetitive - as if Leonard returned to his writing each day, wrote a scene expecting his characters to develop ... but nothing went forward - and the peripheral characters are weak! (Never thought I would say this about the ‘master’s’ writing). So leave this one, (unless of course you have read all his other really excellent books).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2012
Elmore Leonard has never been rated amongst the great novelists of our time, mainly because he is focused so closely on telling the story that he hasn't got time or space for the other stuff that wins awards. His prose is the minimalist kind, stripped of adjectives and adverbs and all other kinds of colouring up. The events and characters have to speak for themselves, because Leonard makes no judgement about them. He won't tell you that this is a good guy, or a bad guy. He's just a guy. The author records what he says and does and presents it to us without comment.

There's always a moment early on in any Leonard novel after which there's no going back for the reader. There is just such a moment in Swag. As usual, it's done without fanfare, and thus catches us completely by surprise.

****
The little prosecutor said, "And do you see that same man in this courtroom?"
Frank said, "No, I don't."
****

With a deft flick of the wrist, he overturns all expectations. The prosecutor is wrong-footed, the defendant is wrong-footed, and we are wrong-footed. What's going on? You have to know. You have to read on...

It's always a pleasure to open a new Elmore Leonard story and see the sentences and paragraphs sitting fresh on the page, knowing that within a few minutes something astonishing is going to happen.
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on 15 February 2013
Elmore Leonard never disappoints, a mad but plausible plot and dialogue that only he can deliver. How does he create such characters, where does he get them from? Only he can do it. A great read.
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on 6 September 2013
Great dialogue, great characterisation and good plot, unfortunately there's a slight flag in the middle but bear with it, it's an engaging, easy and entertaining read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 December 2013
The premise of this novel is so much fun, making armed robbery seem almost amiable. The idea of having 10 rules for successful armed robbery (including be polite always say please and thank you) is wonderful, and the adventures of this Odd Couple are great fun. My first foray into reading Leonard, now working my way through his back catalogue. I recommend the follow up Stick.
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on 31 March 2015
One of my fave Elmore Leonard books. Recommended wholeheartedly. Of particular interest to fans of Dennis Lehane, Jim Thompson, Leonard Lynch, Walter Mosley.
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on 25 March 2015
Good narrative pace but little depth of character. Some of the plot points also seem to be predictable. Disappointing given the hype about Leonard.
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