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The Switch (Ordell Robbie & Louis Gara #1)

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  1,389 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara hit it off in prison, where they were both doing time for grand theft auto. Now that they're out, they're joining forces for one big score. The plan is to kidnap the wife of a wealthy Detroit developer and hold her for ransom. But they didn't figure the lowlife husband wouldn't want his lady back. So it's time for Plan B and the opportunity to ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1978)
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Dan 1.0
When they hatch a plot to kidnap a millionaire's wife and hold her for ransom, Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara over look one detail: what if the millionaire doesn't want her back?

Ever wonder how the guys in Rum Punch (aka Jackie Brown) ended up where they were? This is the first caper starring Ordell and Louis and is a pretty slick piece of work, as befits a book by Elmore Leonard.

As always with old Dutch, the dialogue is slicker than a water slide covered with Vaseline. Ordell and Louis, the crimi
Soon to be a movie starring Mos Def and Isla Fisher?!

Elmore Leonard really is the master. The first of his books I've read without seeing a movie first, but I must admit I picked this one because it featured some of the characters from Rum Punch.

In the wrong hands this plot could become really quite absurd with great ease but as always he handles the absurdity with style, turning it in to what feels like an everyday occurrence for the characters. It's this 'slice of life' aspect to his underworl
Sam Quixote
Elmore Leonard is known for his crazy-good, realistic dialogue who’s also a skilled and imaginative storyteller able to create memorable characters and plots. But every great writer puts out a stinker every now and then and The Switch is without question a stinker!

A pair of low-level criminals, Louis Gara and Ordell Robbie, decide to kidnap the wife of well-to-do real estate developer, Frank Dawson, and hold her hostage for $1million. There’s just one snag though: he doesn’t want her back.


Unlike my disciplined (many might say "anal retentive") approach with the works of other crime novelists, I tend to read Leonard's novels randomly--not in publication order, but rather just grabbing one off the shelf every few months and devouring it. They are perfect literary palate cleansers. I'll get through all of his books eventually, and when I do I'll probably start reading them all over again.

Last night I cranked through THE SWITCH in one sitting--it's from 1978, and feels like a produc
THE SWITCH. (1978). Elmore Leonard. ****.
This is the last novel collected in the Library of America’s first volume in its three-volume set of Leonard’s books. These are: “Four Novels of the 1970s.” “The Switch” represents a departure for Leonard. It is not a caper gone wrong because of internal strife among the lowlifes, it is a turnaround in who is in charge of the caper. It’s all about the kidnapping of a typical suburban wife whose husband cares much more for his golf record at the club than
A somewhat unusual twist in the Leonard crime fiction storytelling oeuvre, although much of his recognizable character development and dialogue are present in this story of Detroit hoodlums going for the big score when things come awry. One of the better of the Detroit books he wrote. The female characters get a larger place in the story, and I liked the critique of country-club life. Although dated, it is still an interesting tale.
Steve Isaak
Leonard's trademark waste-no-words plotting, character-based twists, and slick dialogue and action make Switch a perfect for the crime genre novel. This is an excellent read.

Followed by the loosely linked sequel Rum Punch (basis for the 1997 Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown).


The resulting film, Life of Crime , is scheduled for a stateside theatrical release on August 29, 2014. Daniel Schechter wrote the screenplay for and directed the film.

Mos Def, billed as Yasiin Bey, played Ordell Robbi
Ronald Koltnow
If you were to cross O. Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief" with Faulkner's SANCTUARY, the result would be something like Elmore Leonard's delightful THE SWITCH. A recent film version called LIFE OF CRIME catches some of the charm of the novel but it lacks the vicious wit. When Leonard made the switch (so to speak) from westerns to crime novels he continued in the taut,action driven style of the pulps. In THE SWITCH, Leonard moves miles closer to the breezier style that defines his later work. Leo ...more
Rishika S.
The Switch is an interesting enough read, but not really one that would remain in your memory forever and ever. It's more of a book that you would read for some light hearted entertainment or as a holiday book.

One of the main reasons for this is the slang in the book. Perfectly suitable for the time when the book was published, the language and general behavior of the characters can strike you as a bit odd. Then there is that feeling that you're waiting for something to happen that just doesn't.
Unusually slow to start for Leonard, but the final play is worth sticking around for. He also gives a good heroine in Mickey, whose trajectory in the book puts me in mind of what might happen if a man turned his hand to a Mary Kay Andrews plot.
I hadn't read anything in a while, so I randomly grabbed another Elmore Leonard book and in glad I picked this one. This was a very quick read, and it was the rare book that actually got better as it went on. To top it off, the ending was as good as I remember ever reading. Interestingly, even though this book has been out since 1978, there is a movie version of this coming out this August starting Jennifer Aniston with a different title (Life of Crime). I'll definitely have to check that out.

I picked this up under the impression that the movie Ruthless People was based on it. The plots are vaguely similar, but there is otherwise no connection. Not Elmore Leonard at his best--but it had a lot of the characterization-through-dialogue that his fans (I'm one of them) admire. Also, as the title implies, it had a nice wrinkle at the end. There were good, non-cliched characters; but the villain of the piece was just a standard asshole without any redeeming qualities. In spite of Leonard's ...more
Laura Mosley
I've made it pretty clear in the past that crime fiction isn't really my genre. To me, the characters always seem so flat and their little conspiracies so dull and irritating. By reading this book, I was already setting myself up for disappointment and it certainly fell at the first hurdle.

I can see the appeal of Elmore Leonard's work - his crazy, realistic dialogue, his astute portrayal of the darker side of American culture. There's definitely some intrigue there, but everything else about thi
march 24th it says i read this...gave it five stars. i should stop doing this...writing 'reviews' months after the fact...getting discouraging, this idea i might have that disease that makes you forget, anderson's.
nice cover...the leg...heels...a sense of...something...dash.

story begins:
mickey said, "i'll drive. I'd really like to."
frank, holding the door open, said, "get in the car, okay?" he wasn't going to say anything else. he handed her his golf trophy to hold, walked around and tipped the
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Crime writer Elmore Leonard wrote a lot of stories during his lifetime and this book The Switch, originally published in 1978, has recently been brought to cinema screens as Life of Crime starring Jennifer Aniston. Two ex-cons, Ordell and Louis, kidnap Mickey, the wife of a millionaire, in the belief that they will collect some easy ransom money. However their plan backfires when it is revealed that Frank does not care about his wife an
The SwitchbyElmore Leonard
A friend of mine told me about Elmore Leonard, so I decided to give him a try. Now I wonder what took me so long! His use of dialog was excellent and his characters well rounded. I have heard his endings were weak, but I thought this one was great. You don't really know the whole story until the last sentence, like a touché in fencing. I loved it, although I can see where some people would have found it rather abrupt.

A little about the plot: Louis Gara and Ordell Robbie
I have lately become more of a fan of Elmore Leonard's writing then I was in the past. I've always enjoyed the movies made from his books, but I had never read them very carefully. His transparent, acerbic style is always fascinating, and it translates very well and a film. This novel, however, is not one of this best. It is a trial run for Jackie Brown, but the characters never come fully to life, and the ending seems rushed.
Bob C
I thought The Switch was extremely boring and difficult to read. Elmore Leonard tried too hard to write the book in slang; I, quite often, had to reread paragraphs trying to decipher his gibberish. I finally finished this book and on to another book. Reading an author who can write in complete sentences confirmed I do not like E. Leonard's writing style. The Switch is about the third book I read by him and will not read anymore.
A slight novel (tore through it in an afternoon), but damned enjoyable nonetheless.
A fantastic time capsule of one of the most underrated times in American crime fiction. The book is the 70's through and through, but it never wallows in the cliches that would otherwise negatively date a lesser novel. It's not an epic overview, but rather a moment in time. When Louis name checks Lonnie Liston Smith and Groove Holmes, you know exactly who these guys are and what they're about.
As with most Elmore L
Happy Bookers original choice for Dec. 2014, changed to The Bean Trees.

I loved the ending!

I could relate to the life situation - country club, tennis tournaments - rankings, temperament, alcohol abuse, living life to please or keep the peace of others.

Living in the Detroit area helped picture where things were happening - good read.
This was a fun, short, very quick read. I read it because I saw the trailer for the movie and it looked like a good beach read. It was! Very light, entertaining, plot driven, some good dialogue. I look forward to seeing the movie!
Recommended for people who want an entertaining, mindless read where the characters are still engaging.
Really didn't like this book much. I was hoping for something that would lift me up above the genre, the way the film versions of Get Shorty and Raylan Givens in Justified. I should have started with the novel version of one of those, but I wanted something new, so I dug back a ways to The Switch. I am sorry I did. The characters were lame, cardboard cutouts of real people. The plot was predictable and dull. The last half of the book was like gnawing bricks to get through it was so without flavo ...more
Rog Harrison
I first read this about thirty years ago. I love the author's way with dialogue and I enjoyed most of the books he wrote in the late 1970s and 1980s. This is a lighthearted crime caper with oddball characters.
Carol Jean
As usual, hilarious and well plotted. I read it because I'd just seen the new movie, titled "Life of Crime" and wanted to see how true it was to Leonard's prose. As I suspected, the book is much faster on its feet.
Two crooks kidnap a crooked Detroit real estate developer's wife, hoping for a million dollars ransom. They don't figure that he's got a mistress and wants to get rid of her anyway. Or that the wife, tired of her make-believe life of country clubs and tennis, would not want to go home. It's a good story, a page-turner with fully developed characters, rich scenes and realistic dialogue. The one flaw: I found the ending just a bit anticlimactic or rushed --- I'd like to have seen some follow-throu ...more
Polyne Karamagi
Urrg! I just couldn't finish this book- his writing style is horrible. I don't think I'll be reading Elmore Leonard ever again. Will wait for the movie!
22) "The Switch" by Elmore Leonard, read by Mark Hammer

First time "reading" Leonard, but from my understanding pretty typical: couple of small time crooks get the big idea to kidnap a woman to get money from her slightly crooked husband, who had just started divorce proceedings. Things ensue.

The dialogue (which is a bulk of the story) is natural and easy, again from my understanding typical of Leonard; and the narrator has a voice that sounds like he's just this guy telling you a story, but he'
Kipp Poe
Some real fun characters can't wait to see the movie this fall, I love the last line in the book.
Cathi Cantrell
Had such an enjoyable time reading this book! Great beginning, middle and end!!!
Tom Marcinko
~Louis had been down in Huntsville, Texas, keeping fit, clearing scrub all day, having his supper at five p.m. and turning the light out at ten.~

~It was the kind of thing she would like him for later. (“You big kook.”)~

~Whatever you were into, it didn’t always work the way it was supposed to or the way the other guy said it would.~

~“I can’t imagine being in prison,” Mickey said. “Don’t ever go,” Louis said.~

~He was stirring the drinks now with the iced-tea spoon, concentrating, as thought so ma
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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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