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Split Images: A Novel by

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  1,050 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
“Constant action and top-notch writing.”
New York Times

A Palm Beach playboy who amuses himself with murder finds himself on a collision course with a vacationing Motown cop in Elmore Leonard’s Split Images—a gripping and electrifying example of noir gold from “the coolest, hottest writer in America” (Chicago Tribune).  Split Images is Grand Master Leonard at the top of hi
ebook, 368 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by William Morrow (first published 1981)
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Daniel Villines
Oct 29, 2014 Daniel Villines rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are writers that use their characters to explore the nature of humanity. They dissect their character's thoughts and actions in order to get to the The Heart of the Matter. They work for small bits of truth in a sea of reality and they often succeed, if they are good.

But humans do not fall open to scrutiny so easily. Often in life, the person in front of you simply acts without any hint as to the reasons why. There is no narrator speaking from above and their complexity is protected by the
Sep 13, 2013 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I need to come up with a way to rank just these books of Elmore’s. There are so many, I try to reserve the five stars for only the very best, but there are so many that are the very best. As soon as I love them enough to read again and again, they’re top-shelf for me.

Let’s say, if I sort them into the top third, the middle third, and the bottom third— which still gets high marks— this one is a top-third for sure.

There’s just something here that really gets me. I like this era of his work so muc
James Thane
As is almost always the case in a book by Elmore Leonard, the characters in Split Images take precedence over the plot.

Robbie Daniels made millions in the Detroit industrial company that he inherited from his father. But Robbie has little interest in being a captain of industry. He much prefers the role of Palm Beach playboy. He especially likes golf, women and guns. He also likes killing people.

Robbie fantasizes about the idea of killing truly despicable bad guys who are beyond the reach of th
Brad Bell
Aug 07, 2015 Brad Bell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Split Images is my favourite book by one of my favourite authors because it's kind of a different book from his other works and goes into some unexpected directions.

The book that features probably on of Elmore's more despicable characters who's a monster just because he enjoys it and can get away with it because of his money and status and the cop who starts to suspect that something is off with him. The story goes into lots of unexpected places including featuring a lot of heart which isn't som
A descent crime-thriller. I liked the way the dialogues were; the way they were, seemed extremely natural and realistic.
The story was ok/good. A very fast-read.
Maybe, I will read some of Mr. Leonard's other books some day, but just as light-reads for a break! :D
Robert Walton
Mar 07, 2016 Robert Walton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
I eventually fell in with Mr. Leonard's somewhat jumpy flow and enjoyed the action and the dialog. However, some tragic events occurred during the story and I'm not sure the ending resolved them to my satisfaction.
Nov 01, 2016 Judi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Mildly engaging. Perhaps what was needed, a break from my usual dark, dark tales.
Jorn Barger
Would have been 4-star but for the unhappy part of the ending.
Mar 01, 2011 Johnny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
There is not one admirable, personable character in Split Images. Elmore Leonard and his readers are likely to feel ambivalent about all of them. The female journalist, Angela Nolan, clearly uses men to fulfill her voracious ambition. The millionaire playboy, Robbie Daniels, is a psychotic threat to anyone who gets in his way. The policeman who retires to become Robbie’s bodyguard, Walter Kouza, was a Detroit cop with a Wyatt Earp complex who doesn’t let either the law or morality get in the way ...more
May 02, 2012 Leew49 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
Golf isn't doing it any more for Robbie Daniels. A few years back, he shot another man on a duck blind, killing him. Maybe it was an accident, maybe not, but part of Robbie Daniels enjoyed it and wanted to do it again. And Robbie has the time and money available to a man who has always been rich, the ungrateful beneficiary of his father's hard work. He never flies on an airline, preferring to catch a ride on someone's corporate jet, has never seen the inside of a Holiday Inn, can't remember the ...more
May 05, 2012 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I pretty much agree with the general consensus that Leonard is a master of the crime genre and of storytelling in general. His books manage to be perfectly unadorned by stylistic flashiness and yet chock full of compelling characters and sparkling dialogue. That said, this book has to rank as one of his less successful ones -- either that, or just hasn't aged very well. It's preoccupations -- guns and video voyeurism -- are both completely of the time it was written (1981) and still relevant tod ...more
Mar 07, 2014 wally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leonard
this is one of 45 stories from leonard i've read to date...18 dec 14...although i read this one back in march of this year. read this one on the kindle and this is the cover they used...if it matters.

story begins:
in the winter of 1981 a multimillionaire by the name of robinson daniels shot a haitian refugee who had broken into his home in palm beach. the haitian had walked to the ocean from belle glade, fifty miles, to find work or a place to rob, to steal something he could see. the haitian's n
May 14, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a relief! After reading Leonard's disappointing most recent, "Raylan", I thought my days of enjoying this master writer's works had come to an end. Fortunately he has written some three dozen or so books and I've only read about 20 of them so I reached way back (30 years!) for one he wrote in 1981 and found the same great writing that had originally made me a fan of his.
Split Images deals with a wealthy young playboy named Robbie Daniels who is very clever and gets his kicks killing people
Jun 18, 2014 Daniel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Coming off of The Reckoning, I needed something like an Elmore Leonard novel: dialogue-driven and page-turning. I’ve read around twenty of them, but never this one from 1981. This isn’t his best.

The title epitomizes the book: didn’t he have an editor to tell him how clunky it sounds? It doesn’t roll off the tongue. And while the titles of Leonard’s books are like the titles of James Bond movies, this one falls flat. The other issue is that the plot revolves around a millionaire who wants to kil
Aug 31, 2013 Natasha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Elmore Leonard's writing style and stories. Since he recently passed away, and this book had been unread on my bookshelf for a while, I thought it a good time to pick it up.
There were some unexpected turns in the story, which is always a nice bonus, but overall, it's what you'd expect from him.

The basic premise is a wealthy man shoots a trespasser on his property while he's being interviewed for a story. The journalist ends up meeting with a detective who ends up investigating the wealt
Nov 01, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vintage Elmore Leonard, “Split Images” (1981) shifts between the Detroit area and the east coast of Florida, especially Palm Beach. This time Leonard focuses on a multibillionaire (Robbie Daniels) from Grosse Pointe who gets his kicks killing people, videotaping the murder and getting away with it all.

There’s a fine line between the good guys and the bad guys in Leonard’s characters. I’m starting to think this is one of his trademarks.

Leonard, who died in 2013, lived in the Detroit suburb of Blo
Dean Lombardo
Feb 08, 2013 Dean Lombardo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I have always loved John D. MacDonald and Elmore Leonard, each a master of taut, gritty and entertaining crime fiction novels. Although Leonard's "Split Images" (1981) is a bit TOO rough in the beginning, the dialogue TOO casual, I ended up loving the novel by the end. The characters are amazing, starting with Police Lieutenant Bryan Hurd, lovely/loveable journalist Angela Nolan, and brazen, millionaire bad guy, Robbie Daniels. My favorite character, a guy who kept me in stitches, was Walter Kou
Rich Linder
Oct 14, 2010 Rich Linder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully written book, the dialogue as good as dialogue gets. Elmore Leonard. I've been liking him since I read Freaky Deaky and Maximum Bob. What I like most is how leonard never overexplains. he trusts the reader to get it. Split Images is a story about Bryan Hurd, a cop, and Robbie Daniels, a rich guy whose ambition is to "take out" some of the world's worst bad guys. Of course Robbie, a charming and calculating guy, is also as bad as they come--and he is always surprising you, openly di ...more
Dan Downing
Dec 28, 2013 Dan Downing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1981, "Split Images" is unmistakably Elmore Leonard. It also is without doubt not the same Elmore Leonard who was writing a decade later; or two or three decades later. He simply started out unique and became great. He got better and better, sitting in his writing room with a legal pad and writing.
"Split Images" is a beautiful love story, a crime novel, an exercise in letter perfect dialogue. Think we speak the same way now as in 1981? Read this and find out. ( We don't.)
Aug 26, 2014 Fred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Normally, a Leonard novel without the trademark gallows humor would be lacking a crucial element to consider it much of a success, but "Split Images" actually excels because it chooses to play it straight. The tension heightened, the sudden bursts of violence rendered all the more tragic and the consequences made all the more real. An eerily prescient story of gun violence as power fantasy and the media's role in propagating the worst symptoms.
May 14, 2016 Luca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Split Images shows Leonard to be a master of what one might call "casual darkness". Some quite horrible matters are discussed in passing by characters who have become old hands at dealing with it, and the main thrust of the plot is a deceptively straightforward case of murder by gunfire that nonetheless critiques in a witty fashion systemic oppression and economic (and, let's face it, white) privilege.
Aug 23, 2014 Betty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, american
Leonard writes a good book, no question. I just finished reading City Primeval, written the year before this one, and the basic structure of the novel was very similar. Divorced honorable detective, check; egocentric criminal, check; female interest, check; squad room banter, check; Detroit, check. And so on. But he is such a capable writer and there wasn't a clunker of a word or phrase. So I just have to admire his writing chops. And be grateful that he was a prolific writer.
Martin Stanley
Never thought I'd come across an Elmore Leonard novel I didn't like, but here it is. The usual bright, sparky Leonard characters are dull and insipid. The love story feels forced. The plot is drawn out and lifeless. Even Leonard's usually incisive prose is blunt and underwhelming. Normally I'd be singing the praises of Leonard's awesome dialogue, but characters are so charisma-lite that the dialogue feels perfunctory and, dare I say it, boring. A huge disappointment.
Stephen Baker
Apr 02, 2014 Stephen Baker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read about 30 Elmore Leonard books, and this is my favorite. The villain, Robbie Daniels, is charming and despicable. the journalist, Angela, is scheming and a little bit wicked. The cop is closer to the Leonard standard formula. the pacing is perfect, scenes set nicely in Florida and Detroit, dialog on pitch and funny. I've read it four times, and my copy is underlined with notes in the margin, because I used it as a manual for novel writing.
Oct 06, 2013 Bobby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While not one of my favorite Leonard books, Split Images is still rock solid. The foundation is a couple of terrific, fully fleshed out characters, a Lt. Bryan Hurd and rich pretty boy Robbie Daniels who likes to operate on the other side of the law on occasion, just for fun. As usual, you get to know the characters very well, thanks mostly to Leonard's genius use of dialogue. The ride he takes us on in Split Images is also quite a ride. Well worth reading.
Two things: Elmore Leonard is one of my favorite writers, and I do mean writer. Second: Book is set in Detroit and Palm Beach. It's 1982 and the hollowing out of American industry is underway. Subtly, Leonard asks why the death of one person effects us so much more than that of another. John Donne said that any person's death diminishes us all, that no man is an island. Then why is one death a tragedy and another a statistic?
Sarah Smithers
May 22, 2015 Sarah Smithers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That was a fun book. Especially on audio..I love the narrator! Slightly snarky, does great dialog.

AFter this I'm tempted to read Elmore's westerns..the only things I've read of his was Maximum Bob, and seen some movies adapted from his books... but maybe this is the guy who could get me to read a western!
Mar 28, 2008 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like Elmore Leonard - but this was a bit pedestrian by his normal high standards. Better than "nothing to read", certainly, but nowhere as good as 'Be Cool', 'Pronto', 'Get Shorty', or 'City Primeval'.
Holly Wilson
Feb 22, 2013 Holly Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elmore Leonard never disappoints. Split Images is a fast paced, intense story about bringing justice to a murdered Haitian. His work is always intricate delving in to the lives of both sides of the law. When you look at his body of work, so many of his books have been made into movies or TV. You can't miss when you pick up Elmore Leonard.
This book features Robbie Daniels, a cocky charismatic billionaire, and one of Leonard's best-drawn characters. He is up against a level-headed homicide detective and a journalist. The story jumps from Detroit to Florida and back, and features just enough guns, drugs, deception and murder. A good read, indeed.
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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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