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on 7 May 2010
This gripping crime story is a confrontation between a wealthy couple and a pair of criminals in Detroit in the late 1970's. Real estate developer Frank and his cute wife Margaret ("Mickey") have been married for 15 years, but cracks are appearing in their marriage. Frank is drinking too much, verbally abusive and not always where he claims to be. Mickey is a sweet, non-confrontational, faithful wife devoting much of her time to their 13-year old son Bo, a tennis prodigy. She is a tennis mom.
Ordell Robbie (OR) gives his old friend Louis Gara (LG) a tour of Detroit upon his release from prison, to show him what is new, esp. the derelict tenements renovated with his help. OR supplied much of the building materials and appliances by arranging them to be stolen from other building sites. OR has done pretty well and thinks he can do still better. He knows the man he deals with in his materials racket is a straw man. The real mover and shaker is taking monthly trips to the Bahamas to transfer a small fortune from his cash-paying renters beyond the grasp of the tax authorities.
OR and LG agree that simple blackmail is not enough to force the tycoon to turn over a cool million to them. So they decide to kidnap his wife. And she happens to be Mickey...
Will it work? How will Mickey react? Will Frank pay? How will the criminal duo's third accomplice Richard, a vintage Elmore Leonard (EL) creation, a dumb, smelly, unemployed neo-Nazi perform?
EL is a superlative writer. He combines a deep fascination with senseless violence, human stupidity and doomed individual ambition with awesome plotting and dialogue-writing skills. His often sorry protagonists come across as completely authentic. He has rightly been called the Grand Master of American crime writing. His books (many turned into Hollywood films) are great works of entertainment and studies of the hopes and struggles of America's underprivileged.
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on 20 January 2015
Very enjoyable Elmore Leonard novel. It is fun to see characters reappearing in different books he has written, and I can't wait to see the movie. A must for fans of dialogue-heavy crime novels with a sense of humor, such as those by James Hall, Carl Hiaasen, Leonard Lynch and Walter Mosley.
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on 20 January 2015
Elmore Leonard's revenge on middle class suburban life. Three "scroats" believe the facade of a "perfect" wealthy couple. So they kidnap his wife for a ransom...but hubby doesn't want her back...that annoys them...but not as much as it annoys her!
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on 28 January 2013
Ok so first off I started reading this book after Jennifer Aniston was pictured with it on holiday in Cabo St.Lucas. I researched the book and its becoming a film version and Jen is playing the role of Mickey Dawson.

The book is fascinating its about a dysfunctional family with a wife, Mickey, who won't complain to her alcoholic husband and their son Bo plays tennis.

Criminals kidnap Mickey (I won't say how), but for the beginning of the book there is no link between Ordell & Louis (the criminals) and Mickey. How Elmore Leonard (author) linked the two is perfect.

The criminals ask Mickeys husband to pay the ransom of $1million but he's with his Mistress, Melanie, and ends up not paying to get rid of her as he was going to divorce her anyways.

Last thing ill say is the criminals and Mickey then work together to get all of Mickeys husbands money (you can see a gradual bond growing between Mickey and the kidnappers).

I totally recommended this book! The film is called "Switch" and I believe will be filmed and stuff in 2014. Read it before that its incredible!

Jennifer Aniston- her playing Mickey Dawson will blow your mind! It's a very interesting role for her to play as its not the typical kind of role. But she will play it well I'm sure.

Star studded cast: lots of Hollywood stars are set to play in it just do your research and find out who! (Jen Aniston, Dennis Quaid).

Buy this book! Paperback, Kindle whatever just do it!

Warning: quite explicit language used throughout.
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on 24 November 2010
I'm no great crime fiction buff or lover, but I liked this. It's comedy, with a strong vein of black humor. It's often funny. It's also rather bitter. It's a book on marriage--also. And none of its characters is stereotyped--neither its setting is. The dialogue are brilliants. And you don't expect what's going to come next. What more can you ask for?
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on 13 June 2015
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Crime writer Elmore Leonard wrote a lot of stories during his lifetime and this book The Switch, originally published in 1978, has recently been brought to cinema screens as Life of Crime starring Jennifer Aniston. Two ex-cons, Ordell and Louis, kidnap Mickey, the wife of a millionaire, in the belief that they will collect some easy ransom money. However their plan backfires when it is revealed that Frank does not care about his wife and planned to divorce her so he could live with his younger mistress, Melanie.

It is a fairly quick read as it is not a lengthy book but I did not care for the writing style. I have not read many American novels from the 1970s and perhaps this is a typical example of way things were written then, however it made it difficult to remain interested.

There is also not much of a chance to relate to any of the characters therefore it was impossible to become emotionally involved with the plot – for this reason we should be thankful that it was less than 200 pages long.

Although I have not seen the film I can imagine that it would be quite interesting as the actors and scriptwriters would be able to emphasize the suspense and add in comic aspects.

Overall Leonard is usually regarded as a legendary crime writer, however this book was not for me. Nonetheless, I am sure there would be other people who would love the book.
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on 12 March 2013
Great to see the characters from Rum Punch / Jackie Brown fleshed out a little more in this prequel. Brilliant plot, just the right length of book to keep the story flowing nicely and the ending is sheer perfection. Highly recommended.
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on 16 August 2014
Elmore Leonard is known for his crazy-good, realistic dialogue who’s also a skilled and imaginative storyteller able to create memorable characters and plots. But every great writer puts out a stinker every now and then and The Switch is without question a stinker!

A pair of low-level criminals, Louis Gara and Ordell Robbie, decide to kidnap the wife of well-to-do real estate developer, Frank Dawson, and hold her hostage for $1million. There’s just one snag though: he doesn’t want her back.

The premise sounds more like a throwaway joke or at best an idea for a short story, but for a nearly 200 page novel? No. The thin plot is streeeeeeeeeeetched by Leonard over scores of pages with precious little happening to validate its length. It takes a third of the novel before Mickey (Frank’s wife) is kidnapped, then at least another third before she’s let go over a misunderstanding, then the novel meanders at an excruciatingly slow pace until the blessed end. Does anything happen during the novel? Hardly anything - characters mostly just stand around and yammer about nothing.

The absence of action would’ve been tolerable if the characters had been worth reading about but they weren’t. Our heroine, Mickey Dawson, is as bland a character as any Leonard has ever created. She has no personality and is a doormat of a wife, walked all over by her cartoonishly awful husband, Frank.

Frank’s role is clear: he must be a bad guy and the reader must hate him. So he talks down to his wife, arguing over her about how much he drinks while he sloshes his way through another bottle of whiskies. You couldn’t get a more flat character portrayal than you do with Frank. Mickey on the other hand does her best to ignore it all and pretend everything’s fine, a tactic she employs throughout the story even when she’s being held hostage. And we’re supposed to be rooting for this Stepford Wife?

Neither character could be said to be even remotely realistic. Why would Mickey put up with being treated so poorly when she clearly didn’t love Frank? And why, when she possesses no traits to make her interesting, would Leonard make her the main character? She is beyond boring to read about. Her arc is that at the end she finally stands up to him and demands he pay her a bit more alimony than he said he would. Woo - you go, girl!

Louis and Ordell were easily the only two characters that made this novel tolerable. Leonard writes the pair with a clear fondness for their roguishness, and their friendship is believable. The only enjoyable moments in this novel are when the two are together and scheming, especially once things start going wrong.

I don’t usually quote blurbs but I take issue with the one for The Switch because it’s misleading:

“Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara hit it off in prison, where they were both doing time for grand theft auto. Now that they're out, they're joining forces for one big score. The plan is to kidnap the wife of a wealthy Detroit developer and hold her for ransom. But they didn't figure the lowlife husband wouldn't want his lady back. So it's time for Plan B and the opportunity to make a real killing - with the unlikely help of a beautiful, ticked-off housewife who's hungry for a large helping of sweet revenge.”

That last sentence - “So it’s time for Plan B…” - implies that the plot moves from being one thing to another when it doesn’t. The whole novel is about the kidnapping and Leonard drags it out for the entire book. That last sentence of the blurb IS the ending of the novel. Leonard ends the whole thing on the implication that Mickey joins Louis and Ordell in taking her husband for what he’s worth. So, nice going blurb-writers, you gave away the final twist!

The Switch has been made into a movie called Life of Crime starring Jennifer Aniston as Mickey, Tim Robbins as Frank, Mos Def as Ordell and John Hawkes as Louis - the latter two playing characters previously portrayed by Samuel L Jackson and Robert De Niro in Tarantino’s underrated Jackie Brown. I can’t say I’m encouraged to watch the movie after reading this piss-poor novel by an otherwise excellent writer.

The Switch is a totally forgettable, completely uninspired crime novel featuring a cast of two-dimensional cutouts, a couple of realistic characters, and little else to justify reading it. Leonard is a fine writer though so, instead of The Switch, I highly recommend checking out his other books featuring his characters Chili Palmer or Raylan Givens to understand why he’s so beloved. Those books not only feature good dialogue and characters but also fun, fast-moving plots - unlike The Switch.
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on 24 April 2015
I read this book because I loved the movie Jackie Brown, and this is the book that introduces Ordell, Louis & Melanie. It was perfectly ok, and I'm glad I read it for that reason, but I can't say I can see what all the hype about Elmore Leonard is based on. Nothing wrong with the book, but it didn't make me want to rush out and buy any of his others (except Rum Punch, which jackie Brown is based on)
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on 10 April 2013
The master of crime fiction is again in great form with a storyline that reflects all the great talents of this writer.
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