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Killshot: A Novel

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  4,495 Ratings  ·  262 Reviews
“[Leonard has] written so many first-rate crime stories that it would be fatuous to say Killshot is his best, but it probably is anyway.”

The New York Times bestselling author the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette once called, “the Alexander the Great of crime fiction,” Elmore Leonard is responsible for creating some of the sharpest dialogue, most compelling characters (incl
ebook, 304 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by William Morrow (first published 1989)
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Jul 02, 2008 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who would be more dangerous, two sociopathic killers teaming up or a middle-aged couple who could use some marriage counseling?

Armand Degas (a/k/a Blackbird) sometimes does contract killing for a group of mobsters in Michigan and Canada, and while visiting his old hometown after murdering a man in Detroit, he meets Richie Nix. Nix is a small time armed robber and all-around punk who doesn’t think twice about shooting anyone who crosses his path. Richie has come up with a scheme to extort money f
I'm gonna commit what should be the most flattering of intellectual property crimes, and pass along the opening query with which Kemper begins his (admittedly superior) review of this book:
Who would be more dangerous, two sociopathic killers teaming up or a middle-aged couple who could use some marriage counseling?
Well if that isn't a question for the ages, then I just don't know what is. This is a bit of a lazy review, so I'll give you some extra tidbits of info to take into account while
Joe Valdez
Aug 24, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-crime
The 27th novel by Elmore Leonard, published in 1989 as his renaissance from pulp fiction to the bestseller list was underway, killed me softly. It begins as a routine caper, headed for a bit of home invasion as a pair of crooks tangle with a married couple. It's all carried over with Leonard's sharp, often inspired dialogue, illustrious research and just enough quirkiness to keep me turning the pages. The novel coasts toward its conclusion and when I wasn't looking, knocked me to the mat.

Cathy DuPont
Aug 21, 2013 Cathy DuPont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves a well written story
Does it get any better than this? Killshot...five stars not because of this being my tribute to the passing of Mr. Leonard but it deserved five stars on its own. Great book, per usual from Elmore Leonard.

 photo ap_elmore_leonard_ss_ml_130820_ssh_zps39c5f709.jpg
Elmore John Leonard, Jr. Picture Taken September 17, 2012

My tribute read for Elmore Leonard, RIP.

Born: Elmore John Leonard, Jr.
October 11, 1925
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

August 20, 2013 (aged 87)
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, United States

From Wiki: Leonard often cited Ernest He
Jan 21, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a downloaded from my library & was my first by this author, so I gave it an extra star for being a good introduction. I don't know who narrated this - the info isn't even on the audio. He was good, though.

The story was fast paced & fairly well put together. There were a few times I wondered why the characters acted as they did, but not one of them was particularly normal. The bad guys were psychos, the authorities stuffed bureaucrats, & the victims were - great. Not exactly
Oct 15, 2007 Matthew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Part of the problem here is that Elmore Leonard is hyped as an Important Writer, a kind of second-coming of Raymond Chandler et al. If I'd sat down to read Killshot (my first and probably last Leonard novel) without those expectations, I'd probably have come away satisfied by this workmanlike but generally unremarkable thriller. As it was, I found myself holding him to a standard against which he doesn't even begin to compete: Leonard is decent at characterization and has a nice ear for local id ...more
Jun 03, 2011 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Please note: I read this book in 2006. I'm just updating some of the formatting. This is also a celebration of Elmore Leonard, whose life tragically ended this week.

My Expectations: Since I am a fan of the movie adaptations of Elmore Leonard's works (Jackie Brown, Be Cool) I've been wanting to start reading his books. This is the first I've read and I was most impressed with his writing style.

My ThoughtsI was amused to find him not at all sympathetic toward police or U.S. Marshals, although he
Mar 13, 2013 Still rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of Elmore Leonard's best line up of characters and his strongest female lead ever.
This would be a very nice introduction to readers unfamiliar with Elmore Leonard's writing.
It's a thriller straight out of the gate and lacks the kind of jokey exchanges between characters that most readers of EL are accustomed to.
Everything about this novel is perfect.
It's an exciting, suspenseful and ultimately satisfying read.
Highly Recommended.
Jamie Rose
Feb 20, 2014 Jamie Rose rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe a 1.5. It wasn't awful, but I didn't particularly enjoy it.

I admit, I only picked this up because I needed an 'L' author and it also fit another challenge category - that will learn me!

It took me a couple of days to finish because it was just too easy to put down for other books. Kind of reminds me of No Country For Old Men, this does have speech marks but the tone/ style overall was similar. It started off OK, then just went rapidly downhill.

Armand Degas ( Blackbird) is a hit man, there
Sep 18, 2013 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like my hero Kurt Vonnegut, Elmore Leonard makes it look so easy that I find myself getting angry at him at the same time I'm enjoying his books. Killshot is a deceptively simple story: a hardened, professional contract killer and a flaky, unprofessional thug stalk a married couple who are responsible for derailing the criminal duo's get-rich-quick scheme. And, plotwise, that's really all there is to it. But peel back just a single layer and Leonard is actually exploring two things: 1) the dying ...more
Feb 13, 2012 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
i finally picked this up after years of enjoying the various film-adaptations of elmore leonard stories, but having never read one of his novels.

like the best films of his work (the original 3:10 to yuma, the tall t, mr. majestyk, jackie brown), this novel shows respect to all of its characters. some are good people, some are scoundrels, some are clever, some are idiotic. but leonard takes the time to turn each one of them into something with at least a shred of humanity and complexity, regardle
Dec 27, 2012 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Carmen and Wayne, Richie Nix and the Bird, everybody driving each other stir crazy. Killshot is full of talk talk talk and that’s a great thing, because all I want to do is listen to these conversations all day.

And it’s this batch of books that makes me want to go back and audit some of the ratings I’ve given this year. If these get adjusted, it’s only up, not down.

Re-read July 2014:

Richie and the Bird have to be one of Elmore’s best pairings. Carmen and Wayne have to be one of his best marriage
Josh S
Jun 23, 2012 Josh S rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More a modern marriage novel than a noir, Killshot is a rambling story that is as much about the relationship between the husband and wife protagonists as it is about the crooks on their trail. It has solid characterization, excellent idiomatic Michigan dialogue and a playful reality that makes everything that occurs totally plausible.

For fans of straight-ahead mystery and crime novels, Killshot will seem unfocused, slack and low-stakes, but taken on its own terms it's a solid story told well.
Feb 16, 2012 Brent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Elmore Leonard novel and I went with Killshot because this NY Times article rates as his best book ever:

Turned out to be a great start! I'm totally in love with the TV show Justified, and of course the movies Out of Sight and Get Shorty, so this book delivered exactly what I wanted and expected--quirky characters, gritty violence, humor, and a little excitement. Can't wait to read some more Leonard now.
Apr 13, 2016 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Juanito Dada
Jan 03, 2014 Juanito Dada rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because I've heard good things about Leonard's trim prose and great dialogue, and I've been trying to learn neat tricks for my own writing.
The plot itself sounds compelling enough. Armand, an aging Ojibwe hitman who is stoic and a bit socially retarded is paired up with Richie, a whiny, wisecracking and sociopathic whiteboy to hunt down a working class, michigan couple. Armand's grandmother is a medicine woman that threatened to turn him into an owl, and Richie screws around wi
Carl R.
May 16, 2012 Carl R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Typical Elmore in many ways, is Killshot. Stupid, deadly, comic villains. Characters caught in the middle because of their own weakness or venality. Superb dialogue. Excellent scenery. But there’s something different, too. This is as much about the relationship between protagonist Wayne and his wife, Carmen. They’re working class folks living a middling prosperous life in a fairly successful marriage. Carmen has spunk and imagination and ambition. Wayne’s a good provider, but not long on imagin ...more
Jul 05, 2016 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
As a fan of Elmore Leonard and a fellow Michigander, this one was looked-forward-to. I didn't read it as soon as it was published, but knew it was going to end up on the to-read list. Leonard didn't disappoint in this one. It may be the best of his I've read (although I have yet to read his westerns). I don't give five stars to a genre story, but there will always be exceptions, will there not?

Great story. Vivid characters, once again, brought to life by his exceptional talent at dialogue and vo
Bryce Wilson
Sep 20, 2008 Bryce Wilson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I've got a confession to make, I'm not an Elmore Leonard fan.

Yes I know, I'm Mr. Hardboiled, and as Elmore Leonard is more or less responsible for modern American crime fiction, revolutionized the use of dialogue in pulp fiction, he writes cracker jack plots, vibrant characters, and by some accounts smells like cinnamon. By all rights I should be shining the man's shoes.

But something is just always off for me in his books and it always manages to ruin them for me.

Killshot's a perfect example,
Andrew Webb
This book is ok. Not bad, not great, just ok. The characters are realistic (there are some nice touches like a top of the line hitman eating frozen dinners) and the plot is compelling in that it tells the story of two completely innocent people caught up in a violent situation simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunately, while the characters are interesting, Leonard doesn't show us their full emotional range. For example, most married couples have their ups and downs. Car ...more
Dec 17, 2015 Cbj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
Wayne and Carmen Colson are regular Americans who do things well - Carmen is a successful real estate agent and Wayne is an outdoor guy who is good at jobs that require physical strength. While trying to save their marriage, they run into a couple of incompetent con-men (Richie Nix and Arman Degas) who are out to extort money from Carmen's boss. Donna is Richie's lonely jail warden girlfriend, whom he shares with Arman.

Leonard's dialog writing is terrific. He isn't really into descriptions. The
Syd Perry
This was my first Elmore Leonard book and it may be my last. The book started with nothing but horrible unlikable people. I was thinking, "Who cares if these people kill each other? I hope they do." Finally the protagonists appear. People I can root for, but why do they have to do such dumb stuff? They end up in wit sec, the husband is off on a job and the wife decides she'll go back to their house, where the bad guys know they live. Speaking of the bad guys, why are they even terrorizing these ...more
Jon Clucas
May 10, 2009 Jon Clucas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Killshot is easily my favorite Elmore Leonard book that I have read.

The story from the first page through the last convey a sense of existential angst. I have never read a book like this one before: the story irritated me into continuing, just to finish. I enjoyed reading this book, but every time I read some or thought about what I had read so far, I would feel agitated. I wanted to finish hoping that the end would resolve some of the played-up anxiety.

The end is, to me, satisfactory but not id
Eric T. Voigt
The first book in a long while I could actually tell people the plot of without grasping for understandable nouns or saying "well..." and vaguely defining a few of the themes. Real quick, real satisfying read. Great characters, loved being in their heads while having the third-person keep the action going. And hey, this is the first book I finished in twenty-sixteen. Whoa. Where does the time go? TELL ME.
Donald Schopflocher
Leonard is a master of crime fiction featuring lowlifes and the lower class. His dialogue always snaps, and his characters' internal dialogues always suit them. His writing seems transparent, and never forced. I think he definitely lived his advice to writers: if it sounds like writing, rewrite it. Superior pulp.
Tex Tourais
Dear Elmore,
The last hundred pages were fun, but I couldn't even figure out who I was supposed to sympathize with for the first one-seventy-eight.

I remain,
Adding "who says something like that?" after a crap line doesn't change the fact that you wrote a crap line.
Aug 19, 2013 Mr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe the worst idea Elmore Leonard characters ever had, going into the federal Witness Protection Program. If you haven't already seen the movie, see if you can guess what role in KILLSHOT appealed to Mickey Rourke.
Rex Fuller
Jan 21, 2013 Rex Fuller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very satisfying read. Leonard is a master of dialogue. I didn't realize until the very end that I had seen a movie made from this. As usual, I preferred the book.
Feb 04, 2013 wally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
20th title from leonard for me, paperback, 1989...a dedication, for gregg sutter, story begins:

the blackbird told himself he was drinking too much because he lived in this hotel and the silver dollar was close by, right downstairs. try to walk out the door past it. try to come along spadina avenue, see that goddamn silver dollar sign, hundreds of light bulbs in your face, and not be drawn in there. have a few drinks before coming up to this room with a ceiling that looked like a road map, all th
Barry Flanders
Nov 07, 2016 Barry Flanders rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great characters and suspenseful plot. Wouldn't mind seeing this one made into a movie.
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Goodreads Librari...: Add cover - Killshot 2 7 Sep 13, 2016 11:56AM  
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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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