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City Primeval

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  1,521 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews

Clement Mansell knows how easy it is to get away with murder. The seriously crazed killer is already back on the Detroit streets -- thanks to some nifty courtroom moves by his crafty looker of a lawyer -- and he's feeling invincible enough to execute a crooked Motown judge on a whim. Homicide Detective Raymond Cruz thinks the "Oklahoma Wildman" crossed the line long before

Audio Cassette, 0 pages
Published March 12th 1996 by Books on Tape, Inc. (first published 1980)
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Dan Schwent
Career criminal Clement Mansell killed a crooked judge and the only witness to the crime, the judge's girlfriend. Now, detective Raymond Cruz is trying to pin the crime on Clement but Clement is the slipperiest of worms. Cruz and Clement are heading for a showdown that only one of them will walk away from...

As of this writing, I've read 15 Elmore Leonard novels. Many of them have the same sort of rhythm. The bad guys are slick, the good guys are slicker, and you wind up liking most of them to so
Oct 31, 2015 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Fight, bleep, or hold the flashlight"
- Elmore Leonard, "Impressions of a Murder"


This novel was tight as a futtock shroud, smooth as Mai Noi silk, sharp as the turns on Col de Braus, and hard as a boiled egg. I finish reading Elmore Leonard and I want to be him, just for a second. Now look: Chandler, Cain and Hammett are absolutely the Holy Trinity of crime; the Father, Son and Holy Ghosts of Noir. Leonard, however, is both the Word and death's echo. He is the ultimate end, the great inevitable
Mar 19, 2017 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Like the Detroit in which it takes place, City Primeval has a slick, modern surface and an undercurrent that's more, well, primeval: this is a novel about sophisticated legal defense maneuvers, patient police investigation, honor bound by blood, and Old West shootouts.

Professional dirtbag Clement Mansell, always one or two steps ahead of where people expect him to be (among other things, the Oklahoma accent throws them off), has a lethal blend of practicality, ingenuity, and impulsiveness that c
Marc Weidenbaum
A friend heard I'd never read a book by Elmore Leonard. He knew I'd been reading the Parker series by Donald Westlake, who wrote them under the name Richard Stark. I was up to number nine in the Parker series, when a package arrived in the mail -- two cheap paperbacks of Leonard novels, the sort of slim volumes that fit easily in the back pocket of a pair of jeans -- sent by my Leonard-liking friend. I dove immediately into City Primeval, which is subtitled High Noon in Detroit.

I'm only really
#2016-usa-geography-challenge: MICHIGAN

I hereby declare that Elmore Leonard was a great crime novelist. Oh, you already knew that? Yes, I am new to his novels, but better late than never, right?

In Elmore's first book set in Detroit, rotten and despicable Recorder's Court Judge Alvin B. Guy is gunned down in his big Lincoln and acting police lieutenant Raymond Cruz and the homicide squad wonder which of the long list of his enemies might have had him killed, especially after he declared he could
Nov 29, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up at a library sale I attended about a month ago. I had never heard of this book by Leonard. It was published in 1980 and only has 221 pages. This is a gritty crime novel set in Detroit. This is classic Elmore Leoanard. Tough, hardboiled crime drama with lots of quirky off beat characters and dialogue.
I think this may have been one of Leonard's first forays into writing crime and his later novels are really a lot better, but this was a fascinating read.
A crafty criminal,Clem
Oct 30, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got interested in reading Elmore Leonard because he is one of 20 writers for the 6-season FX series “Justified” (2010-2015) Don and I love. The main character U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is based on the character originally appearing in Leonard’s novels “Pronto” and “Riding the Rap.” Later, Leonard wrote the short story “Fire in the Hole,” that’s the inspiration for the “Justified” series.

I found “City Primeval” (1980) just sitting, unread, on my bookshelves along with another four Leonard titl
Oct 22, 2012 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As telegraphed by the title, City Primeval is an urbanized, big city western. Detroit police detective Raymond Cruz, a street-wise, plain spoken and analytical lawman becomes entangled in an intricate dance of violence with Clement Mansell, a “Billy the Kid” character who loves the game of cops and robbers and is so good at it that he’s managed to escape every murder rap that he has ever faced,--and several murders that he hasn’t had to face—a total of nine in all. Clement ultimately offers Cruz ...more
T.W. Dittmer
Mar 11, 2017 T.W. Dittmer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Fun read, like all of Leonard's work.
Nov 20, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
CITY PRIMEVAL: High Noon in Detroit. (1980). Elmore Leonard. ****.
The Library of America has recently issued “Four Novels of the 1980s” by Elmore Leonard. It is a great excuse for me to re-read these after almost thirty years. I can recall the broad outlines of the plots, but the details have gone the way of lots of other things over the years. In this ‘Detroit’ novel, Leonard immediately drops you into the middle of his story. It will take you a few chapters to figure out what is going on, but
Allan MacDonell
Dec 19, 2010 Allan MacDonell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit is from that dark period of Elmore's career when his novels contained more menace than humor. The realities on City Primeval are harsh, and the view is unblinking and succinctly delivered. No word is wasted, and every sentence is rich in narrative drive, essential information and characterization—this goes double for the dialogue.

Learning writers are drawn to Elmore Leonard because his prose has so much to teach. Lesson number one: Make sure the reader is grat
Ashok Banker
Sep 26, 2011 Ashok Banker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best crime novels ever. Some of Leonard's best dialogue - and that's saying a lot, because Leonard has probably never written dialogue that isn't damn great, but here he outdoes himself. The sheer amount of authentic detail, right down to the repeated racist slurs, misogyny and bigotry is impressive - few authors today would dare to keep that much, I think. Yet it's all in service to the authenticity of the characters and you never once mistake the characters' bias for the author's, s ...more
Sep 28, 2013 Bobbi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-detective
There's something so perfectly satisfying about his books - you don't always know where he's going, but you know he'll get there the right way and not let you down.
This book is, in almost every way, more a western than a procedural. At the same time, it is exactly a procedural. The blend of the two makes so much sense I'm surprised it's the first one I've read of its kind. At the same time, who could do it more perfect justice than Leonard?
Aug 10, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, midwest, 1001
It speaks to Leonard's strength as a writer that this book, which is about as old as I am, still feels fresh and taut today. He doesn't stint on the development of good or bad guys, which is a welcome relief from the many writers who skip this crucial step.
Jan 24, 2014 AC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
Excellent. I'll give it 4 & 1/2, but from the 5 side.
Carl R.
This is an old Elmore Leonard. 1980. Subtitled High Noon in Detroit, City Primeval treats the urban cops and robbers drama as a combination of modern law enforcement and frontier justice. I’m sure Leonard must have used the police detective-protagonist, Raymond Cruz, in other novels, though this is the first time I’ve seen him. He’s unique. Hard-boiled, taciturn, yet conflicted and vulnerable. He gets involved with an equally interesting and complex criminal defense attorney who, three years bef ...more
Sep 18, 2016 Leftbanker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If everyone did their job half as well as Elmore Leonard does, this would be a better world. What Elmore Leonard does is write crime fiction mostly about little shit-heel, two-bit criminals who aren’t as smart as they often think they are, like in the case of Clement Mansell. Throw in a tireless police detective determined to bring Mansell down for murdering a judge, a beautiful defense attorney in over her head, and various other oddballs and sidekicks and you have a fun read as are all of his ...more
Jan 15, 2015 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Thumbs up. From that late 70’s-early 80’s era of Elmore’s I love so much. Raymond Cruz in a lot of ways seems like a proto-Bryan Hurd yet this story takes very different turns. Love the ending. Plus the bit with the Armenians. It gets where you think it’s going but not how you think it’s going to get there. Will probably move even higher up the list on re-read.
Dianne Emley
Dec 28, 2014 Dianne Emley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I'm just starting to read Elmore Leonard and picked up this one as it was supposed to be among his best. Don't have enough background to compare with his other works, but it held up for me. Could have been written yesterday. Complex characters. Witty and dark dialogue. Loved the scene where the detective is questioning the murderer's girlfriend while an episode of The Newlywed Game is playing on TV. Brilliant, brilliant.
Janet Aileen
Nov 10, 2014 Janet Aileen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clean, crisp dialog, excellent character development, and engrossing plot served to us by an accomplished author. Elmore Leonard knows westerns, suspense, and the grittiness of Detroit. References to Carl's Chop House and Coney Island hot dogs took me back to I a place I lived in years ago.
Dec 30, 2016 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Another Leonard Detroit cop book. This one is dueling bad guy and good cop. The cop isn’t perfect, and the bad guy is pretty evil, so this leans to the darker side, as most of his stories seem to go. Worthwhile for the story and the humor. And the Albanians.
Cat Eye55
Jan 23, 2017 Cat Eye55 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic Leonard

There is nothing more fun than reading his books, no matter which one you choose. Before I'm done, I plan to read them all. Perfection to the max.
Norman Howe
Dec 09, 2016 Norman Howe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, noir
Elmore Leonard is not for the faint of heart.
Lee Jeffryes
Clear style. Well developed, likable characters. Captivating events and dialog.

I loved this one up to the point where it ended before I thought it should. Did Mr. Leonard get tired of the story or just run out of steam. I couldn't guess. To be fair, I'm probably being greedy and wishing for more of an already good story and great characters.

Mike Niewodowski
Jan 23, 2014 Mike Niewodowski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#110 City Primeval by Elmore Leonard (#292 on The List)

In memory of Elmore Leonard 1925-2013

“Now, now-lay off Detroit. Them people is livin’ in Mad Max times.” –Moe Szyslak, “The Simpsons”
When I think of gritty crime novels, I think of Elmore Leonard. When I think of crime ridden cities, I think of Detroit, Michigan. City Primeval combines these two for the best (and worst) of both worlds.
The novel’s two main characters are Raymond Cruz, a hard-boiled but noble homicide detective, and Clement M
Atef Attia
Elmore Leonard a beaucoup officié dans le western avant de se spécialiser dans la policier. On se souvient de lui surtout pour son impressionnante biblio policière adaptée avec plus ou moins de succès : Punch Créole -probablement le plus connu- qui deviendra Jacky Brown, adapté par un certain Quentin Tarantino. Get Shorty, Be Cool, Hors d'atteinte ou plus récemment la série Justified. L'on se souvient beaucoup moins en revanche qu'on lui doit certains grands westerns de la décennie 50-60: L'homm ...more
James Adams
Jan 06, 2016 James Adams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This may be one of Elmore Leonard's lesser-known works, but not one of his lesser ones.

I came to this book in a roundabout fashion. I am a fan of Justified, and in one of the special features for the final season, the writers and producers specified this novel as an inspiration, not for a situation or character, but for the tone of one particular confrontation. Odd, that, but I liked said confrontation enough that, when I received my next Audible credit, well...

Now, this book is an oddity for Le
Liam Sweeny
Nov 23, 2013 Liam Sweeny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Elmore Leonard book. I know that fans would've directed me to other, later books, but this book was, I think, a very formative book from the perspective of the author. City Primeval was the transition between Leonard's westerns and the crime books that would eventually make up his hand of aces.

The 'High Noon in Detroit' subtitle was most apt. This was a showdown between Detroit detective Rsymond Cruz, described by his opening interview by a news reporter as someone perceiving
Tom Marcinko
Dec 09, 2012 Tom Marcinko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder if this was his original title. It sounds like a fantasy title.
Enjoying Leonard’s early work as I catch up with him. Something clicked for me when I read Get Shorty. I think in the past I’d read him too fast. He does not waste a word, and if you blink you miss something.

Crime scene: ~There were people here, hanging around the unmarked blue Plymouth sedans, who had thrown on clothes or a bathrobe to come out and watch. Women holding their arms like they were cold.~

~Not the type, at fir
Sep 29, 2012 wally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leonard
i think this is the 10th, 11th from leonard for me...31 chapters it looks like...dedicated "for joan"...sub-titled high noon in detroit...begins:

in the matter of alvin b. guy, judge of recorder's court, city of detroit:

the investigation of the judicial tenure commission found the respondent guilty of misconduct in office and conduct clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice. the allegations set forth in the formal complaint were that judge guy:

1. was discourteous and abusive to counse
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USA Geography Cha...: City Primeval, by Elmore Leonard 1 1 Jun 10, 2016 07:01PM  
STYLE 1 2 Mar 21, 2016 11:52AM  
  • Blind Man with a Pistol (Harlem Cycle, #8)
  • The Seventh (Parker, #7)
  • Cutter and Bone
  • The Glass Key
  • Cause for Alarm
  • The Instant Enemy
  • King of the City
  • Nothing More Than Murder
  • 361
  • The Inspector Barlach Mysteries: The Judge and His Hangman and Suspicion
  • Cogan's Trade
  • Fletch and the Man Who (Fletch, #6)
  • The Two-Penny Bar (Maigret, #11)
  • Saturday's Child (Cal Innes, #1)
  • Cockfighter
Elmore John Leonard lived in Dallas, Oklahoma City and Memphis before settling in Detroit in 1935. After serving in the navy, he studied English literature at the University of Detroit where he entered a short story competition. His earliest published novels in the 1950s were westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into m ...more
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“He walked back into the living room, looking again at the illuminated photo of the man with the brown beard and long hair.
“Who’s that, a friend of yours?”
Mr. Sweety glanced over. He said, “This picture here?” and sounded surprised. “It’s Jesus. Who you think it was?”
“It’s a photograph,” Raymond said.
Mr. Sweety said, “Yeah, it’s a good likeness, ain’t it?”
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