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52 Pickup Paperback – 17 Mar 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New Ed edition (17 Mar. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753819627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753819623
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 1.7 x 13.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 202,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Book Description

From the bestselling author of GET SHORTY and JACKIE BROWN a thriller spiced with blackmail and revenge.

From the Back Cover

Detroit businessman Harry Mitchell had had only one affair in his twenty-two years of happy matrimony. Unfortunately someone caught his indiscretion on film and now wants Harry to fork over one hundred grand to keep his infidelity a secret. And if Harry doesn't pay up, the blackmailer and his associates plan to press a lot harder--up to and including homicide, if necessary. But the psychos picked the wrong pigeon for their murderous scam. Because Harry Mitchell doesn't get mad . . . he gets even.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well worth reading. Punchy, direct writing, good characterisation and a plot that keeps you engaged.
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Format: Paperback
First published around 1977, "52 pick up" tells the tale of a businessman who is having an affair. But when low-lifes try to blackmail him, that's when their problems really start.
The things I love about Leonard's crime books are his apparently effortless ability to craft a twisty tale out of a fairly simple premise, accompanied by interesting characters, brought to life with tight prose and brilliant use of dialogue. The baddies are bad and while the goodies aren't exactly saints themselves in Leonard's world, I always find myself rooting for them.
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Format: Paperback
Final confrontations and their onset are hallmarks of Elmore Leonard (EL;1925-2013)’s writing. He used the cowboy-movie style showdowns in many forms. The winner is always cool, some losers too, only less so. More often, his losers are not very smart, esp. when working in twos or threes high on drugs and alcohol. EL’s smart crook in “Unknown Man No. 89” survived only by avoiding a confrontation – his dumb muscle man did not.
“52 Pick-Up” is situated in Detroit in 1974. It reads like a disaster foretold, because the city has since lost most of its car industry and population, and is now bankrupt. EL’s two storylines concern the city’s endemic crime and violence and the impact of labor unions on its motor industry.
When car-parts factory-owner Harry Mitchell (HM; 45) is fighting union-inspired sabotage and slowdowns, he is briefly abducted to a small cinema. And shown photos and film images of his secret affair with young Cynthia. He knew her only for three months and wanted to end the affair when he was captured in her apartment.
What follows is momentous and thrilling, with Harry reverse-engineering all he remembers from his capture and cinema viewing, to find first one, then the other two (why else ask for USD 105,000?) blackmailers, one of whom soon scares his beloved wife of 22 years, Barbara in her own home. Things get worse because of what he also saw in the cinema: Cynthia being shot dead with five, not just one bullet, from his own, now missing gun along with other evidence pointing at him as her killer…
Inventive and compelling, with all characters instantly believable by how they think and talk. Great background, plotting and dialogue. It ends in another dramatic final confrontation. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Local businessman Harry Mitchell is the respectable, hard-working boss of a small Detroit engineering company. Happily married to his wife Barbara for twenty-two years, he has a mid-life crisis affair with a young model from a nudie bar. Turns out the model works for some local hoods who start blackmailing Mitchell, threatening to expose him if he doesn’t pay them large. That’s where the novel starts. The main storyline is about how Mitchell handles his predicament.

As you would expect from Leonard, even though this was one of his earlier books written in the 70s, it cracks along at a fair old pace. The characters’ dialogue is trademark Leonard - sharp, witty and believable. Leonard had the best ear for realistic urban dialogue of almost any writer I know. He was also a great believer in ‘taking out the boring bits’ - long narrative descriptions which slow the story down. In 52 Pick-up he pares those back to a few sparse details about drugs, guns, and engineering processes necessary to give the story ballast and credibility. But in terms of pacing a story, Leonard is still the gold standard. Any writer starting out would learn more from simply reading his work than they’d get from a lifetime of Creative Writing class.

Okay, now to the main flaw of 52 Pick-up, as I saw it. The blurb on Amazon says, “But they've picked the wrong man, because Harry Mitchell doesn't get mad - he gets even,” and for me that was the main weakness of the book, in terms of the implausibility of the hero’s go-it-alone actions. At several points in the story, especially the beginning, you are yelling at Harry Mitchell to simply go tell the police. Job done. Then of course Leonard wouldn’t have a book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am normally a huge Elmore Leonard fan, but this book really disappointed me. Not for poor writing, or bad plotting, but instead for the way his female characters are treated.
Without trying to give away the plot, the book centres on Harry Mitchell, caught cheating on Hus wife and blackmailed for it. Harry is a likeable character, who serves as the story's hero. But every consequence of his actions - the adultery, the blackmail and subsequent fallout - are experienced by the women in his life (his wife and mistress). They suffer badly, while Harry comes away relatively unscathed.
Leonard writes books about men, (with a few notable exceptions) but his female characters are not mere bimbos sitting on the sidelines - they are plot centric and capable. Sadly this seems to be the rare exception - a different book from a different time. I will still be looking forward to my next Leonard novel, but this one left a bad taste in the mouth.
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