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Meet Chili Palmer: The Connoisseur of Cool.,
This review is from: Get Shorty (Paperback)
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".