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on 22 November 2011
Chili Palmer is a Miami loan shark, collecting Mob money. When he follows a bad debt to las Vegas, then Hollywood, he finds himself drawn into the movie world, a place where he encounters lowlife and big players in equal measure. Harry Zimm is a b-movie producer who asks Chili to help persuade top star Michael Weir to appear in a new film. Chili, meanwhile, has movie ideas of his own.

This is the setup for a very original, very funny and cleverly plotted crime story. As usual with Elmore Leonard, the entire deal is very cool, with a lot of attitude. Very few authors can write dialogue like this - believabe and memorable throughout, with even the briefest sentence revealing a lot about a character and his or her world. While some writers are intent only on 'functionality of plot', stripping everything away until you have a 'product' that does an 'effiecient' job, Leonard is too good for that. Instead you get the work of a man who loves to write, and who never creates anything less than a memorable experience for the reader. This is not in any way to suggest that he isn't good at plotting a story - quite the opposite. Read any - and I mean any - of his books, and you'll encounter the work of a master who is completely at ease with his craft. This book is a perfect example.

Forget issues of whether Get Shorty is fast-paced or takes a while to get going - there are plenty of best-selling titles by worthless authors who can tick those boxes in their sleep. Elmore Leonard sets his own pace, telling a fascinating story with characters that are immediately more entertaining than in most other crime novels. Some people talk about Chandler-esque in regard to Leonard books. But for me what really sets him apart is the jazzy, cool prose, and his unique way with dialogue. Pick any few lines at random and it's unmistakably Elmore Leonard. "Get Shorty" is one of his best, and will make you want to read more of the same. The good news is, there's plenty of it.

Chili Palmer returns in a sequel that's just as good (and to some, better), called "Be Cool".
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on 12 July 2003
Miami based loanshark Chili Palmer is in Hollywood tracking down a defaulting customer and like everyone else in that town he wants to be in the movies. As well as the outstanding thousands of dollars owed to Chili, the customer in question, Leo Devoe, fakes his own death in an airplane crash then runs off with the 300 grand in compensation that his wife receives from the airline. Chili's on Leo's tail and real life being stranger than fiction he can't help but feel the case has all the makings of a blockbuster movie. Inconveniently, incompetent Mafia hood, Ray Bones, also knows about the 300 grand and he's not far behind the shylock, plus he's still smarting from an altercation twelve years earlier when Chili took him out of the game with one punch over a jacket; add to that the fact that Bones still displays the scar where Chili shot him in the head not long after the coat incident.
While in Hollywood, Chili comes into contact with a host of interesting characters: Harry Zimm, a failing budget-movie-producer who wants Chili to come on board to help persuade A-list actor Michael Weir to star in a new project (Chili has his own burgeoning movie idea of course) that he thinks will be a big winner. Karen Flores - failed actress but still sexy and a premier league screamer, always a handy quality to have in budget horror flicks. Bo Catlett, drug-running gangster who, despite his wealth, is desperate for a piece of a movie - any piece - as long as his name is included in the credits at the end of the film. Catlett has absolutely no problem whatsoever with disposing of Chili Palmer if it enables him to get closer to Harry Zimm's side and realise his dream of seeing his name lit up in bright lights.
As with all Leonard novels that I've been fortunate enough to read, "Get Shorty" is awash with attitude; also the way the author presents dialogue between the different characters you feel as if you are actually present in the scene. The book fairly zips along, it's very entertaining and with regards to the main man, Chili, I wouldn't say there's the same level of moral ambiguity that you sometimes find with Elmore's characters: yes, he is a loanshark but he's trying to extricate himself from the business and he's not really a bad lad.
I wouldn't quite rank "Get Shorty" up alongside my favourite Leonard novel to date, "City Primeval" but Chili Palmer is a wonderful creation and it's no surprise that he appears again in a sequel, "Be Cool".
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on 20 February 2002
This is the first Elmore Leonard book I read, and as with most people I read following his list of book-to-film conversions.(Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Rum Punch/Jackie Brown) It's easy to see why so many of his books are made into films because they are written in a contemporary, quick witted and easy to convert to a screenplay style.
This book is no different. It's slick, fast paced and the character dialogue is almost straight off the silver screen.
I've since gone on to read most of his books and I found Get Shorty to be one of his best. The only problem is if you've seen the film the main character, Chili Palmer comes across as the ageing and slightly fat John Travolta.
I highly recommend any of Elmore Leonard's books.
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on 18 April 2003
Having bought this book as part of my english degree course, I was not overly enamoured at the prospect of reading it. However I have to admit to being very pleasantly surprised. It is very well written, in a reader friendly manner and the characters are both endearing and believable. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a book to provide some escapism and light entertainment.
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on 16 March 2010
This is the fourth book I have ready by Elmore Leonard, and the best of those four. It is distinguished by a fast moving intricate and intriguing plot, together with the trademark fast moving style and psychological insight.

Strongly recommended!
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on 24 November 2005
Once I started this book i just could not put it down1 It had me gripped from start to finish with memorable charcters and the coolest dialogue i think i have ever read!
The fact that Chilli Palmer is smart as well as cool adds to the charm of the book.
And in true Elmore Leonard style everyone is trying to do everyone else over!
This is the type of book you read for pure entertainment. Forget the film - read the book, it's much better.
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on 29 July 2009
Elmore Leonard is perhaps the king of the laconically cool novel. He has been writing hip novels for decades and after its successful film adaptation `Get Shorty' is one of the best known. Set around Chilli Palmer and his attempts to infiltrate the film industry the book has the usual laid back charm of the majority of Leonard's work. Chilli himself is a great character and is the one factor in the book that makes it worth reading. He is effortlessly cool and always seems one step ahead of the rest of the characters. I also liked the structure the book took of being a novel about someone basing a film on the events that are happening as you read. It's not as confusing as it sounds and it works well.

I have read a few Leonard novels and they are all universally cool, but also have universal flaws, `Get Shorty' is no different. Once more Leonards laid back style is too cold and feels a little lazy. He is too busy painting sexy characters to the detriment of the story. Nothing really happens in `Get Shorty' and when it does you are not sure how it came about because the book just seems to stumble across situations. I would love for Leonard to incorporate a pace and exciting narrative to go alongside his excellent characters. As it is `Get Shorty' is a nice character piece, but lacks the edgy storyline needed to promote it to excellent.
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on 7 February 2014
Nicely told story, a little bit bizarre, but entertaining enough. As a caricature of Tinseltown and its crowd it is qite hilarious at places, but regardless of all the burlesque action, the story does not really grab you.
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on 27 April 1999
Although this book is slow to get going it really take of about half way through with all the characters really coming out.
It ended brilliantly although I thought Catlett didn't deserve his fate.
The style Reminded me of the Marlowe novels by Raymond Chandler which is a very good thing as they are also great.
All in all a very refreshing crime novel with some great twists. Now all I have to do is rent the film.
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on 12 April 2014
This book had me gripped from start to finish with memorable charcters and a slick plot.
The fact that Chilli Palmer, one of the main characters, is smart as well as cool adds to the charm of the book. Forget the film - read the book. It's much better. I read Morton Bain's Fraternal Affairs at about the same time as Get Shorty, and they reminded me of each other.
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