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ISBN 0385323980 / 9780385323987 / 0-385-32398-0
› Find signed collectible books: 'Get Shorty'
Nobody writes openings like Elmore Leonard. Case in point: "When Chili first came to Miami Beach twelve years ago they were having one of their off-and-on cold winters: thirty-four degrees the day he met Tommy Carlo for lunch at Vesuvio's on South Collins and had his leather jacket ripped off." You need to know about this because you need to know why there's bad blood between Chili Palmer and Ray Bones, the guy who stole his coat and is now his boss--and has ordered him to collect $4,200 from a dead guy. Except the guy didn't die; he went to Las Vegas with $300,000. So Chili goes to Las Vegas, one thing leads to another, and pretty soon he's in Los Angeles, hanging out with a movie producer named Harry Zimm and learning what it takes to be a player in Hollywood.
Get Shorty is classic Elmore Leonard: While other people write "crime fiction," Leonard's come up with a masterful social comedy that happens to be about criminals (and other fast operators). He's a master of snappy dialogue and dizzying plot twists. The best parts of Get Shorty move along so briskly you almost forget there's somebody with a firm control over the story. And you'll be rooting for Chili to get the money, the girl, and the studio deal. --Ron Hogan [via]