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Get Shorty (Chili Palmer #1)

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  16,776 Ratings  ·  497 Reviews
Mob-connected loan shark Chili Palmer is sick of the Miami grind—plus his “friends” have a bad habit of dying there. So when he chases a deadbeat client out to Hollywood, Chili figures he might like to stay. This town, with its dream-makers, glitter, hucksters, and liars—plus gorgeous, partially clad would-be starlets everywhere you look—seems ideal for an enterprising cri ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 4th 2002 by HarperCollins HarperTorch (first published 1990)
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Elmore Leonard had a bad Hollywood experience in the mid-‘80s of working on a film adaptation of LaBrava with Dustin Hoffman. Leonard did multiple unpaid rewrites at the actor’s request, but then Hoffman bailed on the project after six months of meetings leaving Leonard with nothing to show for his time. Leonard’s revenge was Get Shorty and what sweet revenge it is.

Chili Palmer is a small time loan shark in Miami who once got into a beef with another gangster, Ray Barboni, who has held a grudge
Sep 09, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was so much fun! It's only the second Elmore Leonard book I've read, but already I'm a convert.

The story is that Chili Palmer is a Miami loan shark who ends up in Los Angeles, trying to track down a guy who owes him money. Chili has always loved movies, and while in LA he gets to know producer Harry Zimm and actress Karen Flores. Chili has an idea for a movie based on his experiences as a shylock, and a major star likes the story.

What was especially fun about this book was how meta it
Joe Valdez
The 28th novel by Elmore Leonard is perhaps the one the author is best known. Published in 1990, Get Shorty might be the book to turn the man on the street from asking, "Elmore who?" to nodding his head and saying, "Oh, Elmore wrote that? Yeah, saw the movie! He's good!" The movie is not only a stellar entertainment, but ended a forty-odd year dry spell in which Hollywood seemed unable or unwilling to balance the explosiveness of Leonard's violence with the sweetness of his characters and their ...more
Jun 12, 2013 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Week before last I took a trip by myself. It’s one of my favorite things to do, to disappear off the grid, to land up someplace in a [slightly sketchy; always slightly sketchy] motel. It’s not so much a vacation from anything as it is just a change of scenery.

One of the rules, and it hasn’t failed yet, is to make as many new friends as possible. I can do this on trips, because there’s so much wide open space of solitude that it’s hardly an intrusion. I’ll talk to anyone. I’ll talk to a lamppost.
Apr 22, 2017 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The plot is both simpleish & absurd--the showcase in this baby is truly its characters. Without so much description of their personas as actual lines of dialogue that exposes them richly, Leonard pretty much knew this one had Hollywood adaptation written all over it. Heck, the novel is all about Hollywood adaptations. So, although plenty of the circumstances that ricochet all over the "thematic fabric" seem laughable & flighty in the book, the inhabitants and their zippy, sarcastic, semi ...more
S.P. Aruna
Jul 15, 2017 S.P. Aruna rated it it was amazing
I love just about all the books this guy has ever written. His characters are quirky and colorful, his plots always a bit offbeat. And this story of a small-time hood trying to break into the movie business as a producer is no exception.

Elmore leonard is considered a crime writer, yet his characters are rarely (if ever) detectives, policemen, or private eyes. Now that's a challenge! He is definitely a one-of-a-kind author.
It's no wonder that Hollywood has made so many movies out of his books!
Mark Dawson
Aug 21, 2013 Mark Dawson rated it it was amazing
George Higgins might have been an influence on the late, great Elmore Leonard but, for me at least, there is no-one who nails dialogue quite like Duke. It's a great regret that I never got to meet the man because he's a hero. But it's more than dialogue, isn't it? Opening lines, pacing, plotting - he could do all of it, and it seemed to be completely effortless. I think he's written better books than this, but it's the one that brought me to him and so I still have a soft spot for it. Chilli Pal ...more
Milo (BOK)

Elmore Leonard is an author whose work I need to discover more of and having read the first Raylan Givens novel, Pronto as well as now Get Shorty, he’s already turning out to be one of my thriller writers. Like the blurb describes, nobody can write opening lines like this guy and he’s just so good. He finds a way of drawing you in, keeping you hooked and telling a compelling story that you won’t be able to put down.

Like many of Leonard’s novels Get Shorty has been adapted into a film and I dec
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I would call this spoof noir. It has all the noir elements you'd find in a Raymond Chandler novel, but not only none of the darkness, but humor enough for smiles throughout. Chili Palmer is not your stereotypical loan shark. Collecting is just business. Hurting people who don't pay shouldn't be necessary when all you have to do is look at them with that certain look.

Neither is this any sort of stereotypical crime novel. Which are the good guys and which the bad isn't as obvious as it should be.
Kirk Smith
Jul 14, 2014 Kirk Smith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-noire
Fast paced, action packed. Never a dull moment. Pretty amused that it captures a screenplay within a screenplay. I never realized it was so Hollywood. Also, more Fun than I was expecting!
Jul 03, 2017 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fast-paced, funny book that's a mix of gangsters and the Hollywood movie scene. Good writing, with interesting characters and dialogue.
Chili Palmer is a shylock with mob connections working in Miami. However he is sick of the grind and it seems that his friends in the industry have a bad habit of dying. While chasing a deadbeat across America, he eventually ends up in Hollywood, where he decides to stay and start a new life. Besides, he has a killer idea for a movie and this is the town where dreams can come true…or do they?

It is no secret that Elmore Leonard has a bitter opinion towards Hollywood and Get Shorty allowed him to
Tom Swift
Really funny, Elmore is great.
Jane Stewart
Dec 13, 2012 Jane Stewart rated it liked it
Shelves: wise-guy-fiction
I enjoyed watching the character Chili, but I was disappointed with unfinished events at the end.

The value of this book is watching a collection of characters and the shallowness of movie-making. It was different and good. But I can’t say I really liked it. Each time I put it down I had no desire to get back to it.

Chili is a wise guy loan shark. He doesn’t use a gun. His style of intimidation is quiet, making the victim imagine bad things will happen if he doesn’t p
Feb 05, 2008 Bill rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
I had been meaning to read Elmore Leonard for years, ever since seeing movies like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. I knew Quentin Tarantino was a big fan and was heavily influenced by Leonard. So, after much surfing and emailing, I determined Get Shorty was likely the best novel to start with. It was pretty good, but a really light read.

What makes Leonard's writing shine is the dialogue; you've heard the overused "dialogue crackles" rave? Well Leonard really delivers...this is why his novels ma
8/5 - I had real trouble getting into the plot and unusual dialogue style and ended up giving up at page 95. I'm not sure if it was the book or my preoccupation with my recovery, so one day (hopefully this year) I'll give it another go.
Nov 14, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-thriller
Elmore Leonard’s books are iconic, with tight, spare writing and complex plots. His Get Shorty (1990) is right up there, becoming a 1995 movie with John Travolta. It is the first in the Chili Palmer Series. Elmore’s story is a fun ride, requiring some exercise of those little gray cells. It also emerges as a clever self-referential construction: it is a book about writing a movie script that is the story in the book.

Ernesto (“Chili”) Palmer, nicknamed for his hot temper when young, is a collect
Lee Battersby
Oct 14, 2013 Lee Battersby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining, funny, tongue-in-cheek collision of the twinned fraudulent worlds of the small time hood and the small time Hollywood hanger-on, with a menagerie of only partially self-aware characters in the best Leonard tradition. It's a romp in the grand old fashion, and it's easy to see why this was such a hit as a movie-- Hollywood loves nothing more than proving it's hip to its own faults, and Leonard's acerbic take on the grimy, desperate world that springs up in the shadows of the mega-stu ...more
Sep 09, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it
GET SHORTY. (1990). Elmore Leonard. ****.
This was a re-read for me of a Leonard novel that I first read when it was published in 1990. It was also fortunate that I happened to catch Leonard at a reading/signing for this book. He had lots of stories about Hollywood, which is the setting for this novel. Leonard often said that all of his novels had at least been optioned for films. I think most of them made it to the big screen and were successful – and this included his early Westerns also. The q
Mar 13, 2013 Still rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans & newcomers to the fiction of Elmore Leonard
Recommended to Still by: I collect Elmore Leonard books

This novel is the first appearance (to my knowledge) of “Chili Palmer” who also appears in Elmore Leonard’s novel Be Cool.

These two novels were never my favorite Elmore Leonard books mainly because both novels were the 1st I sensed that my favorite contemporary author of crime fiction was working from someone else’s research material.
The attempt to reference pop culture as it was in the 1990s seemed forced and a caricature of all things considered “hip” at the end of the 20th century.

This is th
Sue Herbert
May 12, 2011 Sue Herbert rated it really liked it
I approached Elmore Leonard with caution, because I'm British and I tend to read a lot of classic books. Leonard's language is American, modern, stylised and for me a bit difficult to get into. But I loved 'Get Shorty', it made me laugh out loud. My son borrowed it after me and when he asked me what it was about, I said 'It's about a leather jacket'. That puzzled him a bit, but afterwards he said 'It is, isn't it, because that's what starts it all off!'.

Chilli Palmer is a great character - noth
Neil Hepworth
Can someone explain the appeal of this book to me? I'm sure it's a great movie because there's only 90 minutes of material stretched over 300 pages. I mean, I guess if you like reading about how movies are made (kinda), then you might like some of the scenes, but man...I just don't get it. The actual plot, when it showed up, was pretty good - there were just so many scenes when nothin' much happened. I dunno.

I read this book 'cause my wife and I are watching Justified and I thought this would be
Matthew FitzSimmons
Apr 23, 2016 Matthew FitzSimmons rated it it was amazing
Reread Get Shorty - my admiration for Elmore Leonard is no secret - and I was reminded how brilliantly Leonard reveals character through dialogue and choices. So much of the dialogue was lifted whole cloth for the film, however the book is different from the film in interesting ways. I realized how the film had rendered Chili Palmer (Travolta) cool to the point that he was never in any danger. The Chili Palmer of the book is still cool, but he doesn't glide through the story without repercussion ...more
Jul 12, 2016 Bryce rated it really liked it
A fun, fast gangster-Hollywood-plot-twisty romp.

Leonard's dialog and characters are always just half a step away from being people you could legitimately meet on the streets; they're always just slightly more clever or sleezy or tough. Chili Palmer is the best of these, as a tough mob collector who wants to get in to the movies.

The age of the book is a novelty now, with its dated references. Tom Cruise talked about as a promising young actor, the current state of schlock horror, and Morgan Fre
Jul 14, 2016 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is how it is supposed to be done. This novel is full of crisp dialogue from believable people in places where the sleaze just drips from everywhere you look. With the unlikely hero of a semi-reformed loan shark, it is the suited predators of the Hollywood creep factory that are the truly scary ones for their greed and stupidity, and not the central casting mobsters who are slightly less despicable. This great fun and a masterwork of the genre. I am happy I finally got around to reading it.
Wayne Barrett
Apr 03, 2015 Wayne Barrett rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, 2015, series
Elmore Leonard is a genius at character development and dialogue. A couple of spots where the script in question was drug out a little too long and an unimpressive scene with a handrail kept this from being a 5 star. As a whole the story was very entertaining and was a book that was hard to put down.
On a side note: if you are an aspiring writer, you won't find a better lesson in dialogue than Elmore Leonard.
Oct 15, 2015 Zadignose rated it did not like it
I read it sometime around it's release, so let me guess 1991. It reads like a book that wants to be a movie... which it did become... it was probably optioned even before it was written... it pretty much defined hackwork for me, so I could know what popular hackwork reads like. Not that I recall the plot.
Nate D
Mar 16, 2009 Nate D rated it it was ok
Probably one of our better current pulp stylists. This is one of the more popular, probably partly due to the movie. Junk, mostly, but of the best kind.

My parents had a lot of these kicking around the house, so there was a period where I picked them up whenever I ran out books.
Oct 16, 2016 Ren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this one. Such a funny story with great characters and sharp dialogue.
Classic Leonard , the King of Cool .
Cameron Kleinberger
Sep 23, 2016 Cameron Kleinberger rated it it was amazing
The novel Get Shorty, written by Elmore Leonard, is a story about a man named Chili Palmer, a past shylock/loanshark originally from Brooklyn, trying to get involved in the movie business. After one of his owed men, Leo, goes missing, after scamming an airline, Chili is sent to collect the money and bring it back to Leo’s wife. However, when Chili finds himself in Los Angeles, he does a job for a casino he visited on his way to LA. He goes and collects money from Harry Zimm, a movie director, wh ...more
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  • Dirty Tricks
  • Chariots of Fire
  • The Glass Key
  • The Outfit (Parker, #3)
  • Fantômas (Fantômas, #1)
  • The Beast Must Die (Nigel Strangeways, #4)
  • Tom Jones: Volume 1
  • In the Heart of the Country
  • Double Indemnity
  • The Getaway
  • Farewell, My Lovely
  • The Great Impersonation
  • Miami Blues
  • The Madman of Bergerac: Inspector Maigret #16
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
More about Elmore Leonard...

Other Books in the Series

Chili Palmer (2 books)
  • Be Cool (Chili Palmer, #2)

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“There were a lot of terms you had to learn, as opposed to the shylock business where all you had to know how to say was 'Give me the fuckin money.” 11 likes
“Ernesto Palmer got the name Chili originally because he was hot-tempered as a kid...Now he was Chili, Tommy Carlo said, because he had chilled down and didn't need the hot temper. All he had to do was turn his eyes dead when he looked at a slow pay, not say more than three words, and the guy would sell his wife's car to make the payment.” 5 likes
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