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Killshot [Paperback]

Elmore Leonard
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 3 1999

Armand Degas is a Mafia hit man the guys call Blackbird. He is cool and composed and knows a good score. So when punk crook Richie Nix tells him about his surefire scheme to extort $10,000 from a middle-of-nowhere Michigan real estate agent, Armand signs on. What the two thugs don't count on is Carmen Colson and her ironworker husband, Wayne, being in the real estate office when they go in to collect. Now Carmen and Wayne know too much and Armand has no intention of letting them survive to tell about it. But Wayne's sure the local cops are going to fumble the manhunt, and the best the feds can offer is the Witness Security Program. Now it's come down to one man, one woman, and two killers ... and someone's bound to end up on the wrong end of the gun.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Crime fiction doesn't get any better than Leonard's new thriller, which, while it breaks no new ground, is a welcome retreat to his more direct style of classics such as 52 Pickup and Unknown Man #89 . When Carmen Colson and her ironworker husband Wayne stumble onto an extortion scheme run by Armand Degas, half Ojibway Indian, half French Canadian hit man, and his temporary partner Richie Nix, a talkative sociopath, the two killers set out to eliminate them, hiding out with Nix's girlfriend Donna, a former prison guard who collects stuffed animals and believes that Elvis is alive. In detailing the killers' relentless pursuit of the terrified couple, Leonard builds suspense with a deft, master hand, inducing an instant--and sustained--response of sweating hands and a racing heart. Even the most jaded reader will be swept along on the roller coaster of impending violence punctuated by heart-stopping crises. As always, Leonard writes with a natural ear for offbeat speech and a terrific sense of locale, moving the action from Toronto to Detroit and into Michigan and Ohio, telling the story almost totally through the thoughts and dialogue of the characters. In the Colsons, Leonard presents a more mature and realistic portrayal of a relationship than he has in the past, and he stirs up an uncomfortable fondness for the cruel but mellowing hit man Degas, all the while drawing the reader deeply into these ordinary lives. A bravura performance. Literary Guild dual main selection.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this fine adaptation of Leonard's best-selling novel, Wayne and Carmen Colson's quiet life shatters following their involvement in a failed extortion scheme. To escape from hit man Arman "Blackbird" Degas and his sidekick Richie Nix, the Colsons enter the Federal Witness Protection Program. They soon find out the program contains as many predators as does the underworld. As with all of Leonard's (Cuba Libre, Audio Reviews, LJ 6/15/98) works, it is his character development and dialog that propel the simple plot toward its chilling conclusion. Bruce Boxleitner's reading adds a special effect to the story, and the adaptation captures all the power of the original novel. Highly recommended for all collections containing Leonard's past works.?Stephen L. Hupp, Urbana Univ. Lib, OH
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leonard hits the bullseye May 11 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Elmore Leonard strikes again with Killshot. Killshot, one of Leonard's best books, greatly emphasizes Leonard's outstanding writing talent. The story is of a hitman named Armand Degas, aka Blackbird. Armand has a chance encounter with an ex-con named Richie Nix, when Nix hijacks Armand's car. The two become partners, although Armand is clearly the leader. While on a job in Michigan, the duo encounters Wayne Colson and his wife Carmen, witnesses to the crime. Armand and Richie need to eliminate these witnesses.
The chase that follows is one of the most suspensful and exciting sequences of events that I have ever read in any book, ending in an awe-inspiring climax that will leave you with sweaty palms and a pounding heart. Leonard capitalizes on his outstanding characterization in Killshot, making it seem like you have known Armand Degas since you were in second grade. Leonard does a superb job of painting the picture of a criminal's life, making Killshot a hard book to put down.
Killshot is one of the most well written books that I have ever read, one of Leonard's best (not an easy thing to be!) This book proves that Elmore Leonard is indeed the undisputed king of crime writing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Story of an aging hit man - Leonard style Feb. 27 2004
By M. Dog
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The theme of this book is one that Elmore Leonard uses often, and nearly always to great effect - a romantic couple is swept innocently into the world of crime and has to discover heretofore-unknown resources to save themselves.
The reason this works so well for Leonard is that it lets him write to two of his great strengths. First, of course, is the world of criminals and cops. His criminals are always incredibly well drawn and always very distinct and three-dimensional. I have never read it anywhere, but I would guess that Quentin Tarantino must have been a big Leonard fan in his developmental years. His screen killers bear the hallmarks of Leonard characters; i.e. impassioned conversations about everyday things (like the two hit men in Pulp Fiction discussing McDonald's Big Macs) while dwelling in the sub-culture of crime and violence.
The second and less-commented-on strength Leonard has is the ability to portray the tugs and pulls of a male/female relationship with such effortless accuracy. In the interplay of the novel's husband and wife team, the subtle, aggravating, thrilling differences between man and woman are expertly rendered with a few classic, Leonard strokes. Also, Leonard is also the master at local color and authentic detail. His research and detail always has the feel of easy, unforced truth.
But let's face it; crime is what makes Leonard tick - the deal, the scam - and the men and women licking their chops over money and guns. It is certainly all here in this book. Here, it's an extortion scheme combining the efforts of an aging, nearly burned out hit man (Armand Degas) and a clever, hyperactive sociopath (Richie Nix). As always, Leonard develops his characters with subtle, concise power.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A near-masterpiece. Dec 5 2000
From 'Split Images' to 'Get Shorty', a run encompassing about ten books, Elmore Leonard could do no wrong -- every one of these titles is compelling. 'Killshot' ranks as the best (perhaps tying with 'Split Images') book of this period. The plotting is clever in that it is put at the service of the characters -- action unfolds from character, rather than being imposed on it. And the prose, especially the dialogue, is pitch-perfect. (Compare Leonard's dialogue with that of James Ellroy, and see why Leonard is still regarded as the master.) What makes Leonard's books so enjoyable, however, is the amount of arcane information he's able to put into his story without ever making it feel crammed. He's written about graphology, Mississippi rivermen, high-steel construction, and Elvis Presley conspiracies (all 'Killshot'); leprosy and embalming ('Bandits'); St Francis of Assisi ('Touch' and 'Bandits'); the overthrow of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic ('Split Images', 'Cat Chaser'); photography and the Secret Service ('LaBrava'); casino operations ('Glitz'); hippie politics ('Freaky Deaky'); and countless other subjects. His facility for making these things interesting almost defies belief. Surrender yourself to 'Killshot', especially the redoubtable Carmen Colson, and find your plams getting sweaty, your mouth dry, and your heart racing. You'll laugh a lot, too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Leonard On Target June 14 2000
"Killshot" is a fast-paced, edgy and action-filled novel with strong emphasis on character, which is what one expects from Elmore Leonard. Leonard effectively paints telling portraits complete with physical details, emotions and mannerisms, and he never short-changes on plot or suspense. This book hums along. The killers are reprehensible, but Leonard makes them human, with their own particular vulnerabilities. Richie Nix is a sociopath seeing people only as objects to be used or eliminated. The Bird is somewhat more empathetic, but a cold, bloodless professional killer nonetheless. Carmen and Wayne Colson are a married couple who get caught up in a shakedown scam by mistake, and they end up having the two killers on their trail. Leonard does an outstanding job with minor characters as well giving them pivotal roles, especially Donna, the woman who becomes a lover to both killers, and the egotistical deputy sheriff. While the reader might find him or herself rooting more against the evilness of Richie or Bird, rather than for any compelling traits in the Colson's, there is more than enough tension inherent in "Killshot" to make this a very good read.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A dud!
I'm a big fan of Leonard's books, but this one is a dud.
He breaks his own rules and gives us dull summaries of the lives
of the characters right as he's trying to get... Read more
Published on Dec 1 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Vintage Leonard - all of the interesting texture and humor one expects, and that wonderful sinking suspense that he seems to have lost track of lately.
Published on June 11 2003 by D. Wright
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as great as some people seem to think
I agree with the reviewer from Albuquerque who says "Killshot" is mediocre. I've read two books by Elmore Leonard, this one and "Maximum Bob". Read more
Published on March 14 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Stroke of the Master
There are many interesting ingredients: a setting on the U.S.-Canada border; a cold-blooded Indian hit man; a psycho, rep-building sidekick; victims willing to fight back, one a... Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2002 by Thomas A. Liese
3.0 out of 5 stars Killshot Is Not Great, It's Mediocre!
Killshot was my first Leonard book. I chose it because all of the rave reviews it has received here. Read more
Published on June 24 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars OVER THE TOP!
A total slam bang hoot by the master of the hilariously dark satire.
Published on Oct. 22 2001 by Waleed Eissa
4.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary people in extraordinary situations
Carmen and Wayne Colson are unwilling witnesses to the collision of killers Richie Nix and Blackbird. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2001 by frumiousb
4.0 out of 5 stars Blackbird
Armand "Blackbird" Degas and Richie Nix are Killers, one a professional and the other just a lunatic. Read more
Published on June 2 2001 by Paul Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great action comedy
This is what Elmore Leonard churns out better than about any other modern writer I've read. This book isn't about what it's about, it's about HOW it's about it. Read more
Published on June 12 2000 by Jonathan Ashley
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