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Pagan babies (original 2000; edition 2000)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060008776, Mass Market Paperback)After 30-odd novels, one might think that Elmore Leonard has nothing left to prove. But Pagan Babies, a novel filled with his signatures (tight plotting, scathing wit, and that grittily realistic dialogue), shows once again why he sets the standard against which other crime novels are measured. In fact, Leonard has raised the bar. How many authors would dare use the Rwandan genocide as backdrop for a story that moves gaily between romantic comedy and a massive, labyrinthine con? More to the point, how many of them would pull it off?
Father Terry Dunn doesn't have qualms about substituting punishment for penance. If that means killing four Hutu murderers who slaughtered his Tutsi congregation, so be it. Being an instrument of divine wrath has certain disadvantages, however, so Dunn breaks camp and heads for Detroit, where he's welcomed by family, a five-year-old federal indictment for tax fraud, and a fast-talking fireball named Debbie Dewey. Fresh from a stint in prison for assaulting her former fiancé, Randy, with a Ford Escort, Debbie is out for revenge:
"I still can't believe I fell for it. He tells me he's retired from Merrill Lynch, one of their top traders, and I believed him. Did I check? No, not till it was too late. But you know what did me in, besides the hair and the tan? Greed. He said if I had a savings account that wasn't doing much and would like to put it to work... He shows me his phony portfolio, stock worth millions, and like a dummy I said, 'Well, I've got fifty grand not doing too much.' I signed it over and that's the last I saw of my money."It's only a matter of time before Debbie's desire for cold, hard cash and Dunn's fundraising for Rwandan orphans join forces in a carefully plotted financial assault on Randy's benefactor, Tony Amilia, who just happens to be the last of the old-school Detroit Mafia. Throw in a couple of hit men to whom loyalty is a foreign word, and you've got vintage Leonard: a fast-paced, roller-coaster ride of a novel where deceiver and deceived are gloriously shifty signifiers. --Kelly Flynn
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 14 Apr 2011 09:23:07 -0400)
Is Terry Dunn really a priest? He doesn't always appear to act like one. He comes home to Detroit, after witnessing a tragedy in Rwanda and runs into Debbie who's doing standup at a comedy club. Terry and Debie hit it off; they have the same sense of humor and similar goals in that both are out to raise money.
(summary from another edition)
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