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Split Images

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  918 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
Quintessential Elmore Leonard, Split Images stars Palm Beach playboy Robbie Daniels. He's the kind of guy who gets away with everything -- even murder -- until a vacationing Motown cop, Bryan Hurd, starts asking questions. When this millionaire reptile reveals the psychopath beneath his slippery skin, Hurd finds out this is one helluva way for an out-of-town lawman to spen ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 356 pages
Published October 2002 by HarperTorch (first published 1981)
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Cuba Libre by Elmore LeonardGet Shorty by Elmore LeonardLast Stand at Saber River by Elmore LeonardMr Majestyk by Elmore LeonardHombre by Elmore Leonard
Novels of Elmore Leonard
7th out of 46 books — 8 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGilead by Marilynne RobinsonThe Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael ChabonInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerThe White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty
Fifty States of Reading
34th out of 58 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,510)
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Daniel Villines
Nov 08, 2014 Daniel Villines rated it it was amazing
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
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
May 18, 2014 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
Jul 16, 2014 Bryant rated it really liked it
More and more all I want is for someone to tell me a story. Just tell me a story. Give me something to get invested in, make me fall in love with somebody. Break my heart, keep me turning the pages. Leonard has crafted his style around this notion, pared his writing down to the bare-bones, giving you exactly what you need with the upmost precision and economy. He is a master storyteller. This is a fantastic story.
Robert Walton
Mar 16, 2016 Robert Walton rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 20, 2014 Daniel rated it it was ok
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
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
Nov 15, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
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
Dec 18, 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 16, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
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
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 06, 2012 Leew49 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Aug 31, 2013 Natasha rated it really liked it
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
Stephen Baker
Apr 02, 2014 Stephen Baker rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 04, 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 21, 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.
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.)
Apr 10, 2014 Jake rated it really liked it
As what seems to happen when I read Elmore Leonard, I enjoy his less-heralded works more than the popular ones. This is a good example. It meanders a bit in the beginning and I almost quit but it turns out to be more focused than his usual works with good characters and a good plot/resolution.
Feb 12, 2015 Rupert rated it really liked it
Mid-period Leonard. The well-oiled formula machine is well in gear, but the characters still feel three dimensional and the plot in this one is magical absurd and entertaining. I kind of see Timothy Olyphant in the role of all of Leonard's protagonists now.
Sarah Smithers
May 27, 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!
Gina Rheault
Nov 21, 2015 Gina Rheault rated it really liked it
My first Elmore Leonard book, set in Detroit and with all the class antagonism you could want, men who are manly, and women who are pretty darn manly as well, giving as good as they get.
Oct 11, 2015 Josh rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
The pleasures of Elmore Leonard lie in the prose, the snappy dialogue, the gleeful seediness of the characters and settings. As such, things are always less interesting as the action and exposition pick up. But this one's a good, slow burn.
Rich Linder
Oct 14, 2010 Rich Linder rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2016 Wade rated it liked it
Engaging story and relatable characters, but lacked originality and pizazz. I liked this book and will probably read others by him, though more because I am curious as to why he is one of Stephen King's favorites than that I was drawn in so much by this one.
Dean Lombardo
Feb 24, 2013 Dean Lombardo rated it it was amazing

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
John Cain
Feb 03, 2015 John Cain rated it really liked it
Classic Leonard. Enough said I read it in 2 days. Hard to stop reading, great dialogue.
Feb 01, 2016 Derk rated it really liked it
Another well-done gritty novel by one of my favorite authors.
Apr 27, 2016 Kimberlyluisi rated it did not like it
Awful. Predictable plot, ridiculous dialogue.
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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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