Usually in a Elmore Leonard book, we get to know what the caper is going to be rather early in the book. In "Stick", it doesn't come until very late in the book, and is so unimportant to the overall story it's almost a throw-in. But that doesn't matter, as just following the adventures of the title character is worth reading on it's own.
"Stick" tells the part of the life of it's main character, Earnest Stickley, right after being released from prison. Yes, he does witness a murder, and yes, people are after him for it, and yes, he does eventually get involved in a big score at the end, and yes, even this has a surprise twist. But it's what happens in between all this that I like.
You would think that seven years of hard time would make anyone sick of a life of crime. You would think he would avoid anything that would send him back to a life that he admits is a constant struggle for survival. But, as in his other books, a con is a con is a con. It's amusing that Stick doesn't even seem to conceive of the idea of a completely straight life, even though that's what he's declaring.
Sure, he gets a job as a chauffer, but it's just something to hold him as he scopes out other jobs. He claims to be coming to Florida to see his daughter, but it's quite a while into the story before he actually gets around to going to see her. Checking out the local crime scene is just a higher priority, yet you don't dislike the guy.
While this life is not for me, it does provide great escapism into a world where I can be part of it, but not have to pay the price.