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Maximum Bob [Mass Market Paperback]

Elmore Leonard
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 11 2002

Hard-ass Palm Beach County judge Bob Isom Gibbs enjoys sending even petty offenders away to do hard time -- which has made the list of miscreants who want him dead longer than a fully grown Florida gator's tail. And a good number of his illwishers are probation officer Kathy Baker's clients, including young Dale Crowe and his psycho uncle Elvin. Now, Kathy's got an even more daunting task than keeping BIG's horny hands off her: keeping "Maximum Bob" alive. Because Gibbs's many enemies seem to be willing to go to any lengths -- be it death by amphibian or some more tried-and-true method -- to permanently end the career of an oversexed, racist jurist who's more interested in scoring than in saving his own red neck.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Darker than his usual fare (something very bad occurs to a good guy), Leonard's ( Get Shorty ) latest is no less excellent. Elvin Crowe, of a habitually criminal Florida family, is out of jail and looking to run a scam on rich probationer Dr. Tommy Vasco, ex-friend (lover?) of Elvin's prison boyfriend. Turns out that all three were sentenced by illiberal Palm Beach County judge Bob Isom Gibbs, aka Maximum Bob. For $10,000 Elvin contracts to kill Gibbs, wondering if he can get more out of Dr. Tommy. Meanwhile Gibbs is trying to scare off his weird young wife, Leanne, a possible psychic sharing a body with Wanda Grace, a dead slave girl. Racist and sexist as any redneck, Gibbs has eyes for young Kathy Diaz Baker, probation officer for Elvin, Elvin's nephew and eventually Dr. Tommy. Still angry about a failed marriage to an Anglo cad, Kathy meets youngish detective Gary Hammond. They start working together (Who brought a gator to Gibbs's house? Who shot at the house? What's Elvin up to with Dr. Tommy?) and fall in love. Leonard's suspense, pace, humor and ear (probation officers talking shop, e.g.) are as wonderful, dry and true as ever. Major ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club featured alternates; author tour.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

Leonard returns to the Florida coastline for his weakest novel since Touch (1987)--a bumpily humorous but unfocused seriofarce about a probation officer and the eccentric judge she gets entangled with. As one of Leonard's very few heroines in 29 novels, spunky Kathy Baker of the Florida Dept. of Corrections blows a whiff of fresh air into the Leonard canon--as does the outspoken, aging hanging-judge Bob Gibbs--but not enough to put the spring into a slack plot that begins when skirt-chasing Gibbs takes a fancy to Kathy as she shows up in his courtroom with probation-violator Dale Crowe Junior. Gibbs throws the book at Dale, then asks former psychology-major Kathy out on a date under the guise of her talking to his wife, a former showgirl who seems to be possessed by the spirit of a 12-year-old 18th-century slave girl. Before Kathy can visit Gibbs, however, a hugh alligator appears on his property and sends his wife scurrying for northern climes. And that's just fine by Gibbs, who turns out to have imported the gator to get rid of his loony wife. But when Gibbs double-deals Dickey Campau, who brought the gator, Campau drives out to the judge's home and shoots up the house. Which is just as well, because the shots scare off Elvin Crowe, Dale's mean and flaky uncle, who's been hired by another of the judge's irate courtroom-victims, a crack-addicted M.D., to kill the judge. Caught up in the investigation into the gator-attack and shooting, Kathy matches up professionally and romantically with cool cop Gary Hammond--until a jarring note of raw violence takes out Gary and sets Kathy up for an anticlimactic confrontation with Elvin and the M.D. Nicely realized characters, the usual smart Leonard dialogue, a few moments of brisk high/low humor--but the meandering plot lacks drive, Gibbs rolls around like a loose wheel, and the whole affair seems more like a pale Carl Hiaasen imitation than true-blue Leonard: It's all a big disappointment after Leonard's crackling last, Get Shorty (1990). -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good characters; Great dialogue; Very uneven March 5 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Maximum Bob's a frightening Judge to end up with if you're a defense attorney. An old fashioned hanging judge, he makes State's Attorneys relax, police witnesses calm down, and defendants shiver. He's also kind a promiscuous man, chasing women with utter disregard for the EEOC and HR. Along comes Kathy Baker, a DOC (Department of Corrections) Probation Officer. She's like many of the Leonard heroines, attractive, gritty and while not amoral clearly someone willing to go all the way to get her man. This is excellent news for Sergeant Gary Hammond, one of the good guys. The bad news for Elvin Crowe and his nephew Dale, two lifetime, recidivist convicts, is that she also means them.
The alligator, Dickey Campeau, Leanne, Earlene, Dr. Tommy, Wesley and Hector all add to the United Nations mish-mash of dysfunction, crime, love and humor.
The dialogue, always a Leonard strong suit, gets better and better. Unfortunately, the plot seems unfocused. It takes a long time to get up a head of steam. We keep floundering around the set-up. What's Elvin going to do? What's Gary going to do? Is Leanne coming home? Is there a second alligator? But then it speeds up and we are led to believe that now, finally, the thrilling climax . . . . only to discover that it slows down . . .to speed up. Tedious. And a lot of unanswered issues and characters.
That's why they give awards to film editing. There was none here.
Good for the charcters and the dialogue; poor for the story and the finale. Larry Scantlebury
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3.0 out of 5 stars Meandering Elmore July 10 2001
By A. Ross
Although Leonard bestowed this book with a great title and two of his more memorable characters, he does none of them justice in this rather aimless story. Like much of his work, this is a quick-moving piece set in South Florida, and features a full parade of small-time criminals, cops, one or two truly nasty folks, and a wide array of curious characters who spout crackling dialogue. The catalyst for the action is hanging judge "Maximum" Bob Gibbs (who is said to resemble Harry Dean Stanton), a racist, sexist, philandering, cracker, caricature of a fella' who doesn't mind speaking his mind. Of course, this gets people mad at him, most notably recent sentencee Dale Crowe Jr. and his ex-con Uncle Elvin, recently returned from 15 years for killing a man. They plot to off him, with the assistance of a drug-addled doctor under house arrest, and his mincing "houseboy." All these folks are also in the orbit of the real protagonist, parole officer Kathy Baker and her love interest, cop Gary. Kathy is one of most engaging of Leonard's female leads, but her job sort of restricts her ability to influence events. So, enter Gary, a cool, low key hero type, who has the power to move events along, but also somehow manages to bore one to death. It all meanders along in Leonard's typical farcical fashion until a somewhat discordant murder or two heralds the beginning of the end. It's a rather mundane and anticlimactic conclusion for a Leonard novel, and one wonders if he just got bored by it. Another weakness is the judge's wife, a new-agey type who is sometimes possessed by the spirit of a young black slave girl, but whose interludes serve only to break the flow of things. There's also the houseboy, Hector, whose oddity is mentioned repeatedly by several characters, but never explained or explored. It's not awful, but it's not as crisp as most of his work, hopefully he'll bring Kathy back for a more fully realized adventure in the future.
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3.0 out of 5 stars memorable characters, disappointing novel Dec 11 2000
There are few enough decent television series these days for us to be able to let a good one slip away. Unfortunately, the TV version of Maximum Bob, starring Beau Bridges, lasted only a few short weeks. Unfortunate because in this book Elmore Leonard introduces an interesting cast of characters, Kathy Baker, one of his rare female leads, is okay, but Bob "Maximum Bob" Gibbs, a notoriously lecherous and racist judge prone to harsh sentences, and Leanne, the judge's wife, former mermaid at the Weeki Wachee aqua bar, who--since a close encounter with an alligator--has developed a psychic link with a twelve year old slave girl, are both terrific.
These characters, and a copious serving of lowlifes, combine with Leonard's trademark dialogue to make for a colorful story. However, the plot just kind of meanders towards a conclusion and the prodigious final body count seems to reflect the author's desire to end the tale rather than any necessary mechanics of the plot.
Television, which is almost totally character and dialogue driven, and where lack of a coherent plot is to be expected, was an ideal medium for this collection of oddballs. Alas, the show disappeared quickly and though several folks in this intermittently amusing novel are memorable, it doesn't rank among Elmore Leonard's best efforts.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Altogether a Maximum Bore July 1 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Lets' get straight to it. This book has wit. It has quintessential Leonard dialogue. It is quick-paced. It has Leonard's intimate understanding of the low-lifes in our society.
But, none of those qualities are excluded in any of Leonards novels.
So what is the matter? You come to expect all those things going into reading Elmore Leonard's books. Either because he has been recommended to you, or you have been a life long fan so you know what to expect. But, this book is still not the best of his bunch.
Why? For one, it simply is not memorable.
Sure, the judge is a memorable character and a year from now, if I try to explain this book to someone, Judge Gibbs will be the central memory. Of course the book is named after him, so he should stand-out in this book. Yet, all the other characters lack a certain spark that Leonard is known for. Any of the other supporting characters could wind up in his other books. It's almost like he is recycling old character ideas from previous books. Perhaps ones that never fit into another story, but he liked them so much he blended them all into this book.
Elmore Leonard is pure guilty pleasure. His books translate well into this era because of his ear for speech, his heart-racing pace and his understanding of the low-life in today's Jerry Springer/COPS society. It's no wonder than dozens of screen writers have emulated him in the past 20 years. Its not hard to see Leonard's influence in any of today's action/crime movies.
You may enjoy "Maximum Bob," as I did, but it won't be the Leonard novel that you will savor and re-read at a later date. 3 stars because it's still enjoyable, but not memorable.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fun read!
I picked up MAXIMUM BOB, as I always enjoy E.L. I can get into his books in one short sitting, and I'm most often captivated by his characters, with their very human... Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars A LOT OF SLOW MOVING PAGES!
Judge Bob Gibbs, otherwise known as Maximum Bob, usually sentences anyone for to long. Now he may pay. Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2002 by Mac Blair
5.0 out of 5 stars Maximum Read
I read this book because I knew Leonard was a master of pacing and I wanted a refresher course. I wasn't expecting the tapestry of characters, the elegant choreography of the... Read more
Published on June 7 2001 by Jenny Crusie Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Irreverent, unexpected, and entertaining
This was a departure from what I normally read, and I liked it in spite of myself. The characters and plotting were completely off the wall, and even when I didn't like how... Read more
Published on July 26 2000 by Christina P. Branson
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite to the Max
This may be a lacklustre effort from Leonard, but lacklustre from him is damn good for anyone else. It might be the surreal elements in this one, which don't play out quite so... Read more
Published on June 8 2000 by David Baldwin
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected!!
This is the first Leonard book that I have read, and it did not do much for me. I was expecting something along the lines of Hall or Hiaasen, but this did not come close. Read more
Published on Oct. 7 1999 by Frank (
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected.
After watching the TV series on ABC, I expected MAXIMUM BOB to be a very funny and very off beat dark comedy. Read more
Published on June 10 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars Maximum Blah
Why does everyone think this guy is so good. Please tell me this is his worst book. Maybe my expectations were real high but the story wasn't all that great and the thing this... Read more
Published on May 16 1999 by Christopher B. Prentiss
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK! GREAT AUTHOR!
Published on May 13 1999
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