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City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,355 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
“As gritty and hard-driving a thriller as you’ll find….The action never stops, the language sings and stings.”
Washington Post

The City Primeval in Elmore Leonard’s relentlessly gripping classic noir is Detroit, the author’s much-maligned hometown and the setting for many of the Grand Master’s acclaimed crime novels. The “Alexander the Great of crime fiction” (Pittsburgh P
ebook, 352 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by William Morrow (first published 1980)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,576)
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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
Mar 13, 2016 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
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
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
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
Nov 01, 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 01, 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?
Oct 02, 2013 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.
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.
Apr 12, 2016 Luca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blink and you've finished it because this is another Leonard wild ride! Plot is straightforward as hell: hick killed some people, cops wanna nab him. Whip-crack dialogue and an intriguingly matter-of-fact darkness under the surface of our seemingly straight-laced protagonist make for an entertaining 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
Jonathan Rimorin
A fantastic, thrilling read, set in Leonard's beloved Detroit, about a dastardly varmint named Clement Mansell, who kills at a whim, and the detective pursuing him, the very tired Raymond Cruz. Some editions (not mine) subtitle this book "High Noon in Detroit," which highlights the fact that Leonard retrofits much of the tropes of Western fiction (which he wrote in the 1950s and 60s) into this crime tale: the damsel in distress, the lawman in white hat, the dastardly but charming varmint, the fa ...more
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.
Mar 31, 2014 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Janet Aileen
Sep 03, 2015 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.
Aug 26, 2015 Giles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's nothing mind-bending about the plot of City Primeval. Indeed if you squint your eyes you can almost believe you're reading Freaky Deaky, Glitz, Swag of any one of Leonard's Detriot-based books.

On the surface it's another Elmore Leonard tale of a decent man falling for a decent woman all the while being preyed on by a malign yet strangely likable criminal. But boy, oh boy does Leonard make these characters sing. The pacing is great throughout, the red herring might not be a red herring af
May 26, 2014 Ash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Jun 07, 2014 Jure rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 19, 2013 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
James Adams
Apr 15, 2016 James Adams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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 28, 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
Dec 05, 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
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 1 Mar 21, 2016 11:52AM  
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  • 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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