The film Get Shorty
was a success on many fronts. It introduced a new style of hip gangster that revised the stereotype of the Godfather
series. It also helped relaunch the career of John Travolta. And it brought Elmore Leonard's impressive body of fiction to larger public attention. In Hollywood, such a triumph usually spawns a sequel--a film that rehashes the great jokes and cool scenes of the first film, but with none of the panache that initially inspired audiences.
In the beginning of Be Cool, the sequel to the novel Get Shorty, readers are reminded that Chili Palmer--like his creator--scored a huge success with a gangster film (his was entitled Get Leo). But the sequel, Get Lost, was a predictable dud. Rather than follow that sordid story, however, Leonard takes Chili into a totally new direction. He places Chili on a murder investigation (in which he is a prime suspect) and then traces Chili's entry into the music business. Meanwhile, Leonard reveals a whole new cast of fresh, funny, and flaky characters to populate Chili's world, characters like Elliot the gigantic, gay, Samoan bodyguard who lives to be on the stage. Throughout, the voice of John Travolta rings in Chili's every speech (word has it that Travolta has already been cast to reprise the role) as Leonard pokes fun at the Hollywood apparatus and the task of a sequel writer.
Be Cool surpasses its original because it is so self-consciously a novel about sequels, about the sometimes cowardice that limits the creativity of the American film industry. It is hard to imagine how Leonard could top the multilayered satire/crime novel/exposé. One only hopes for a sequel. Fans of Be Cool might want to check out music from The Stone Coyotes, the band that served as Leonard's model in the book. --Patrick O'Kelley
--This text refers to the
From Publishers Weekly
In Get Shorty (1990), Leonard skewered the film industry in a rollicking crime read that became not only a bestselling book but also a megahit movie. This razor-sharp sequel veers from the venality, egomania and basic bad taste of the movies with the similar attributes of the pop-music business. After one hit (Get Leo) and one flop (Get Lost), Chili Palmer, former loan shark and now movie producer, thinks the record industry is fertile ground for his next flick. He hasn't lost touch with his old Brooklyn friends, though, and while lunching with one he witnesses his pal's mob-style murder. As he's not a serious suspect, Chili becomes friendly with the investigating LAPD detective. He has also become interested in Texas-bred singer Linda Moon and her effort to break into the biz, which puts him on the wrong side of her inept but murderous manager, Raji. When a Russian gangster is found shot dead in Chili's house, matters complicate further as Chili wades through a rogues' gallery including more Russians, a mob hit man, seriously criminal gangsta rappers, Raji's giant gay Samoan bodyguard and assorted other denizens of La La Land. Chili remains a compulsively appealing character throughout, retaining his immaculate cool in lethal situations as those around him wallow in pretension and hypocrisy. Leonard's plotting is as propulsive as ever and his desert-dry wit continues to flare at high heat. Nearly every sentence of this novel reads as if it's dipped in gold. This is a knockout work from a master crime writer: be cool, and relish it. Major ad/promo; simultaneous BDD audio; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the