Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “City Primeval” as Want to Read:
City Primeval
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

City Primeval

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,054 ratings  ·  85 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

...more
Audio Cassette, 0 pages
Published March 12th 1996 by Books on Tape, Inc. (first published 1980)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about City Primeval, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about City Primeval

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,967)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
...more
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
...more
Keith
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
Bobbi
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?
Jessica
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.
S J Blake
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
Jamie
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.
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
AC
Excellent. I'll give it 4 & 1/2, but from the 5 side.
Steven
Elmore Leonard gets four stars. The guy never allowed a cliché onto a sheet of paper. Nobody in his books is really a good guy or a bad guy; everybody just plays an assigned role and tries to get by. The spare writing carries me for the first chapter or two, then it all starts to go flat - the plot, the people, even the famous dialogue. Things happen, but nothing develops. His stories move quickly, but never get anywhere. After he died, I Googled for his books that critics liked best, and this w ...more
Mike Niewodowski
#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
...more
Brandon James
This is the first novel by Elmore Leonard that I've read and I found it to be easy, straight-forward and most of the time, predictable. The characters are all a bit cliche from the bad guy that always calls the cops names, to the main female characters that are weak and vulnerable, to the good guy that always seems to know exactly what the bad guy was, or is, up to. Everything is too convenient.

I did find it entertaining however. That primal part of my brain didn't want to put the book down. It
...more
Ash
I picked this up because of Elmore Leonard's reputation for dialogue and after seeing his "rules for writing". I was particularly fond of "avoid detailed physical descriptions of characters", which is a pet peeve of mine for some authors (Robert McCammon, I'm looking at you).

I was not disappointed. In City Primeval, Leonard paints vivid characters through their colorful dialogue alone. The (I assume) genuine Detroit dialect was at first as confusing as trying to understand a foreign language, bu
...more
Jure
It is funny, there's some sex and some action so even though it turns into a predictable thriller towards the end, it is still very enjoyable reading right until the final showdown. Without giving away too much, let's just say I didn't choose the word showdown as a metaphor. I will admit I didn't see it coming in spite of warning signs (Gregory Peck) so both the ending and the final twist were surprising. But unfortunately I was just surprised how bad maestro has finished the novel.

More here (re
...more
Scott
In general, I love Elmore Leonard crime novels. I particularly like his stories set in Detroit, working through snappy characters like jaded homicide detectives, criminals who are street-smart evil yet lovably comic at times, lawyers and judges corrupted by and corrupting the system, etc. This novel centers on a notoriously corrupt judge's murder. Raymond Cruz, a homicide cop with some issues with relationships, has repeated Old West-style daydreams that place him facing the suspected killer, th ...more
Liam Michael Sweeny
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
...more
Tom Marcinko
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
...more
Julie
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
...more
wally
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
...more
Carl Brush
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
Allan MacDonell
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
...more
Blayne
I must admit that I am not a big fan of fiction and rarely completely finish a fiction book. A friend suggested that might be because I havent read any "well written" fiction. He suggested I pick up a Elmore Leonard book. The local library had City Primeval on cd, so I picked it up to listen to during my work commute. Under 7 hours, I finsished it in less than a week.

I liked it, though I must admit, if I had picked up the paperback instead of the cd, I probably would not have made it to the end
...more
Jim
If you want to get in the heads of a few interesting people trying to get in the heads of each other so they can skirt the law, impose it, or abuse it, read an Elmore Leonard novel. Leonard is good at avoiding cliche without being clever or "original", and he is a master of knowing what not to write. Every time you see it coming, Leonard sees that you see it coming and doesn't bother you with having to read it. Flow: You catch an Elmore Leonard wave on some Saturday morning and Sunday night you' ...more
Sean
Sharp, rapid, engrossing pulp crime from one of the genre's best. Conversational, descriptive and active, it’s tough not to get deeply involved. I love how real Leonard's characters seem, despite the high-stress situations, and the bits of black humor he dashes in at unexpected places. He paints a vibrant landscape in no time at all, hooking readers in a busy, dirty world and reeling them in through a mess of twists, turns and morality knots. This just seems like a quick taste, but so do most of ...more
Dianne Emley
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.
Betty
Clever plotting. Very cinematic. Not surprisingly a goodly number of Leonard's novels have been made into films. The subtitle, High Noon in Detroit, is a dead giveaway for the book: a mash-up of a Western plot set in 20th c. Detroit. At one point the bad guy even wears a black cowboy hat. The only flaw was the stereotyped gender roles, but pretty typical of the times.
Jake
(3.5) Standard fare from Leonard with one memorable guy (Clinton Mansell, seriously one of his best characters ever), one good guy trying to do what's right, a handful of scenes that have no reason being there in the first place, and great dialogue. This one was a solid three star read but the last ten pages made me give it an extra half.
Robert
I love Elmore Leonard's plotting and his dialogue, but especially his protagonists...good men, usually flawed, but struggling to do the right thing in a hard world (and a rough city, usually Detroit). Detroit Homicide Lt. Raymond Cruz is a classic Leonard protagonist. Great book.
Jon
Not Leonard's best. Neither the protagonist nor the antagonist are well drawn enough to support a plot built around a showdown between the two.

However, a dynamite ending absolves a lot of sins.
Lauren
There's just something about Elmore Leonard. Crime fiction, which I've never thought I was a huge fan of, but this man could write. Second book I've read by him and wasn't able to put it down. Highly recommend.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 65 66 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Cause for Alarm
  • Cutter and Bone
  • Blind Man with a Pistol (Harlem Cycle, #8)
  • Miami Blues
  • Nothing More than Murder
  • The Sour Lemon Score (Parker, #12)
  • Dog Eat Dog
  • Cogan's Trade
  • The Wheelman
  • When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder, #6)
  • Collected Stories (Everyman's Library)
  • King Suckerman
  • The Two-Penny Bar
12940
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
More about Elmore Leonard...
Get Shorty (Chili Palmer, #1) Out of Sight Tishomingo Blues Rum Punch 52 Pick Up

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“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?”
0 likes
More quotes…