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52 Pick-Up

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  4,369 ratings  ·  128 reviews

Detroit businessman Harry Mitchell had had only one affair in his twenty-two years of happy matrimony. Unfortunately someone caught his indiscretion on film and now wants Harry to fork over one hundred grand to keep his infidelity a secret. And if Harry doesn't pay up, the blackmailer and his associates plan to press a lot harder -- up to and including homicide, if necessa

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Published April 30th 1987 by Penguin Books Ltd. (first published 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dan Schwent
Blackmailers have factory owner Harry Mitchell over a barrel. Either he pays them $105,000 a year or they turn over an incriminating film of him cheating on his wife to the police and press, and more, if he doesn't pay up. Too bad Harry Mitchell has ideas of his own...

Elmore Leonard sure knows how to weave a serpentine tale, doesn't he? He takes a story that seems simple on the surface, that of some blackmailers hitting up a pigeon for money, and turns it into something else all together. It was
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Mike
Nov 20, 2013 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of crime novels and suspense thrillers
Recommended to Mike by: goodreads group Pulp Fiction
52 Pickup: Elmore Leonard's Card Game

"If you want it, here it is, come and get it
Make your mind up fast
If you want it, anytime, I can give it
But you better hurry 'cause it may not last

Did I hear you say
That there must be a catch?
Will you walk away
From a fool and his money?"
--Paul McCartney, 1970



Ever played 52 Pickup? It only takes two players. A standard deck will do. It's a joke, man. The dealer's in on the trick. The stooge is the pigeon, the patsy. The dealer shuffles the deck. Ready? The de
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Kemper
Harry Mitchell could be a poster boy for the Greatest Generation. He was a World War II ace fighter pilot and afterwards started his own manufacturing firm that’s become a successful business while he and his wife Barbara enjoyed a happy marriage and raised two kids.

Ah, but the mid-life crisis has made more than one man stupid, and Harry has a fling with a woman half his age. Just as he is about to break it off, Harry is confronted by a trio of blackmailers who have films that show his infidelit
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Algernon

It's a shame, ain't it? Everybody is trying to mess everybody.

That's rich, coming from the mouth of a small time crook, trying to blackmail a middle aged guy having an affair with a much younger woman, but it is a rather good resume of the plot of this Elmore Leonard novel. Actually, it could be said it is a fair assessment of most E.L crime capers, where nothing goes according to plan and things go pear shaped in an ugly way with obstinate regularity.

I was curious about the title, but it only
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AC
I've gotten really into genre lately -- which must surprise those who've heard me pontificate so much on Plato and on Nazis. Well, actually, not into genre, so much, as just into crime/mystery/spy novels. I still hate Sci-Fi, despite my somewhat heroic efforts to read a mass of it a year or so back. Maybe it's an age thing....

But perhaps it's not so surprising, after all. Many years ago, I learned to my great astonishment that my professor was an avid reader of mystery novels (I don't know whom
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MSJ (Sarah)
"We picked the wrong guy," Leo Frank said. "That's the whole thing. We picked the wrong fucking guy."

Oh Leo, you and your two low-life friends did indeed pick the wrong guy to blackmail this time.

I read 52 Pickup as a monthly read in the Pulp Fiction group here on Goodreads and I'm really glad I decided to participate. This was such a well crafted and well written crime story. The characters and their actions were realistic and it didn't come across as "phony" or one-dimensional as often these
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Johnny
This is the third earlier Leonard book that I have picked up, and like the other two (MOONSHINE WARS and MR. MAJESTYK), it is a solid read. Fast, violent, and fun.

All three books share one very distinct Leonardian quality: precision. There is nothing extraneous in any of the stories. Leonard tells only what is necessary and then moves on. It keeps the novels short and fast.

I would also argue that same quality keeps the books from reaching past a ceiling they always seem to hit. While they are go
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Tammy Walton Grant
It all started with Timothy Olyphant:



Timothy plays Raylan Givens in the FX series Justified. (He's also my latest mid-life crisis, as anyone who gets my updates will know. ) That series is based on characters created by Elmore Leonard, and specifically a short story called "Fire in the Hole".

So after watching 2 seasons of Justified (all in the course of 3 weeks, but who's counting?) I was curious. I vaguely remembered that the movies Get Shorty and Out of Sight were based on his books, but until
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Still
from the Avon paperback back-cover blurb:

Detroit businessman Harry Mitchell was having a mid-life crisis. He had an attractive wife at home. He had a voluptuous girlfriend on the side. And now he had a problem with porn movies.

He was in one.

A man with a stocking over his head and a .38 in his hand wanted a hundred grand to keep Harry's picture out of circulation. But the hoods behind this blackmail scam made a big mistake when they fingered Harry Mitchell for their pigeon...




With Elmore Leonard
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Steve
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tony
FIFTY-TWO PICKUP. (1974). Elmore Leonard. *****.
There’s a big smile on my face: the Library of America has just published the first in a projected three-volume set of the novels of Elmore Leonard. “Fifty-two Pickup” is the first of “Dutch’s” novels to be included. I haven’t read it for years and years, and forgot how good it was, and still is. It’s the story of a businessman who made a big mistake by stepping out on his wife for the first time after twenty-some years. He has to face the music wi
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Johnny
If Elmore Leonard is the greatest living thriller writer (as I am told on the back cover of this novel), then I must be tremendously unappreciative. I couldn’t take a steady diet of his work. I often feel punched in the gut by what happens to his characters, even when I believe they sort of deserve what they’re going through as some kind of karmic payback or poetic justice. In the case of 52 Pick-Up, the protagonist finds himself in a bit of a pickle because he couldn’t keep his pickle (wink, wi ...more
Col
Synopsis/blurb.........

Detroit businessman Harry Mitchell is a self-made man, happily married for over twenty-two years and a pillar of the community. But then he slips - he meets a young 'model' and begins an affair. One night he arrives at his girlfriend's apartment and finds more than he bargained for. Two masked men have caught his misdemeanours on camera and now they want a cool hundred grand. But they've picked the wrong man, because Harry Mitchell doesn't get mad - he gets even.
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Gabriel
My reading of an Elmore Leonard book was a long time coming. And what a nice one to start with. The story is straight out of a film noir movie, man gets caught cheating on his wife by three hoodlums who blackmail him for $100,000 ... things get out of hand and revenge is taken. While the subplots do get in the way of the main story ("wife deals with husband's infidelity" and "union manager uses thug before contract talks" add very little in comparison to what they subtract from the book), this w ...more
Franky
52 Pick Up is the late Elmore Leonard’s tale of one Detroit businessman’s dealings with a trio of blackmailing thugs. When his adulterous affair is caught on tape by the three men, Harry Mitchell is forced to either pay up one hundred thousand dollars or deal with the consequences. If you know Elmore Leonard novels, then you know that there is only one choice for Mitchell. As the blurb on the back cover divulges “Harry Mitchell doesn’t get mad…he gets even.”

For some reason, I found this book to
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Cappie Chamberlain
52 Pickup is exciting. Pure and simple. The book moves at breakneck speed, setting up the story quickly and never allowing the reader to catch a breath. Leonard's dialogue is wonderful and the main reason I loved the book. Each character can be grasped and understood quickly thanks to the words they use. It is easy to see the coldness within Mitchell due to the words used. It is brilliant, absorbing and makes the novel a page turner.

The final chapter is a little flat and anticlimactic. It left
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Michael
"It's a shame, ain't it? Everybody trying to mess up everybody."

That line comes from Elmore Leonard's immensely pleasurable Fifty-Two Pickup, but it could just as easily have come from its literary forebear, The Friends of Eddie Coyle. According to the chronology provided in the Library of America's inaugural volume collecting his best work, Leonard was advised to read George V. Higgins' game-changing crime novel in 1972, with its legendary dialogue and brilliant portraits of the sad sacks of th
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Bobbi
There's something fascinating about a regular joe not just getting in over his head in bad trouble, but facing up to it and being enough man to handle it without flinching. Finding that we have unexpected strength and the capability to go to violent lengths to protect the things we love is a dream we all harbor, I think.
Carl Brush
Mitch is a bit of a mogul. He's parlayed a couple of inventions and a good business mind into a prosperous business selling parts to Detroit auto manufacturers. Then he gets involved in one of those mid-life affairs and ends up paying a much higher price than anyone should. It's minor, this thing, and he cuts it off after three months and tells the wife, who isn't pleased, but the marriage should survive. However, it soon appears that the couple themselves might not.

Three ambitious, though not p
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Frank Bukowski
Flawed but highly readable early crime thriller by the daddy of naturalistic dialogue

Local businessman Harry Mitchell is the respectable, hard-working boss of a small Detroit engineering company. Happily married to his wife Barbara for twenty-two years, he has a mid-life crisis affair with a young model from a nudie bar. Turns out the model works for some local hoods who start blackmailing Mitchell, threatening to expose him if he doesn’t pay them large. That’s where the novel starts. The main s
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Alec
"RIP Elmore" read the text from fellow Goodreader Paul D. I believe it was the type of eulogy Leonard himself would have appreciated: short, direct and, above all, real. Elmore Leonard died August 20th at the age of 87 after a 60 year writing career. Though I am a recent addition to the Leonard bandwagon (thanks, embarrassingly, to my affinity for the show Justified), I have enjoyed the Leonard novels I have read and look forward to enjoying many more. A heartfelt thanks, Mr. Leonard, for all yo ...more
V.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Webster Fortyone
"Harry Mitchell doesn't get mad. He gets even."

Thats what the synopsis reads. This is the story of how Harry extracts from his wife's wrath after having an affair, from blackmailing criminals who have killed his mistress after pinning the blame on him, and from a labour relations officer who is gunning for Harry's head. Not to mention a friend whose got his eye's on a pissed off Mrs. Mitchell.

52 Pickup got me hooked on to Elmore Leonard, and along with Cat Chaser it is on the top of the rankin
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Shaun
The novel had me hooked right up until the denouement. Towards the end, the characters reactions to the events they found themselves in seemed unrealistic. I felt that the protagonist was too calm, and his reactions never went above lukewarm. But that aside, the dialogue is gritty and real, and even though it was written in the early 70s, it still holds up today. The writing itself is powerful and descriptive, without any unnecessary prose to bog the story down, and it was that which kept me tur ...more
Todd Sullivan
I'm beginning to realize that when it comes to crime writing, Elmore Leonard was a hell of a practitioner. It's too bad I'm only uncovering his work now. '52 Pick Up' is the sort of thriller that people use words like "taut" to describe. There is not a single ounce of fat to be found here. Every moment is necessary to the story, and each moment leaves the reader wanting to know what moment comes next.

More than anything else, what I find intriguing about Leonard's books -- the few I've read at an
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Doug
Read this as part of Elmore Leonard: Four Novels of the 1970s: Fifty-Two Pickup / Swag / Unknown Man No. 89 / The Switch: but I think I also have it on Kindle standalone, so I figured I'd mark it as this as I make my way through the other three books.

I don't know, man. This is pretty good. The set-up is great: group of three half-assed thugs try to scam a presumed rich man out of six-figures through blackmail, and then ramp it up with a murder charge when he calls their bluff. The half-asses are
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La Biblioteca
You can translate this review on: http://labibliotecadidrusie.blogspot.it/

Thriller un po' datato, ma abbastanza coinvolgente ed entusiasmante.

Tre delinquentelli credono di fare il colpo grosso trovando un pollo che si diverte con l'amante e ricattandolo, ma, ben presto, si rendono conto, che hanno scelto l'uomo sbagliato.

La trama non è di quelle impossibili che sanno tessere alcuni maestri del genere. Si presenta abbastanza lineare con pochi personaggi e, essenzialmente, pochi punti di vista, ma
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Oon
Fifty-Two Pick Up by Elmore Leonard

So, this is what true pulp fiction feels like.

This is my first time reading his works, and this first impression initiates a mounting curiosity about his other works. Elmore Leonard was famous in the US for his Western works in the 50s and subsequently for his crime fiction and comedic writing in the 60s and 70s. Fifty-two Pick Up is one of his most memorable crime fictions, having made into a movie starring Roy Scheider and Ann-Margret.

At the center of the boo
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Larry
I finished "52 Pick Up" by Elmore Leonard last night, just in time before the start of game six of the World Series, and it was a delightful book. I remember seeing the movie back in the day, starring Roy Schneider and Ann-Margaret, but I couldn't recall all the details. Although the book was published 40 years ago, the story and the writing still seem crisp and fresh to me today. Harry Mitchell is a suburban Detroit factory owner with a beautiful wife and an elegant home, but one brief adultero ...more
Thomas Tyrer
Earlier this year I "found" Elmore Leonard. I'd seen films like "Get Shorty" (Look at me, Harry) and "Out of Sight" and always enjoyed his brand of hard boiled but self-effacing characters just doing their best to get by. So when I learned that Leonard began his career writing westerns to hone his chops in a specific genre, I figured I would check him out. That led to reading all of his western short stories, then "Hombre" and now moving into his crime fiction with "52 Pick-Up." I'm so glad beca ...more
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What's your favorite Dutch Leonard book? 5 18 Nov 15, 2014 07:03PM  
Pulp Fiction: November 2013 - 52 Pick Up 23 59 Dec 19, 2013 03:51PM  
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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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