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3.58  ·  Rating details ·  2,277 ratings  ·  149 reviews
“Almost unbearable suspense. Leonard has produced another winner.”

A wild ride with “the coolest, hottest writer in America” (Chicago Tribune), Bandits has everything Elmore Leonard fans love: non-stop thrills, unexpected twists and turns, unforgettable characters, and the most razor-sharp dialogue being rapidly exchanged anywhere in the crime fiction genre. Leonard
Paperback, 448 pages
Published January 28th 2003 by HarperTorch (first published December 1987)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,277 ratings  ·  149 reviews

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Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a story, what a plot and what a performance from the narrator, Frank Muller.
Put simply, just brilliant in all of the aforementioned.

There is so much going on here and it’s all held together by Elmore Leonard’s tongue in cheek dialogue driven plot.

There’s a cast of memorable characters that will bring all your emotions to the surface.

There is the twenty something year old beautiful ex nun. There is the, now straight, ex jewel thief come ex con. There is the ex cop who is also an ex con. Ther
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Who Enjoys Reading
Recommended to Still by: Nobody. I'd become addicted to Elmore Leonard prior the publication of this novel
This book was as much fun as the last crime novel by Elmore Leonard that I read and is every bit as good as the next crime novel by Elmore Leonard that I intend to read.

This was the third time I've read this novel.
The 1st time I read this was back when the book was 1st published in 1987.
I read it again in the mid 1990's.
Odd thing about reading it a third time: it came to me as fresh as the first time.

I found that I'd forgotten key plot details.
My question: does plot even matter when it comes
aPriL does feral sometimes
Not everyone is satisfied with a steady job, a two-story house, and a white-picketed lawn. Elmore Leonard characters, for instance. Leonard's books usually showcase men who have spent time in prison or who were slightly crooked, burned-out cops. Often these gentlemen in the beginning of a Leonard story are in the middle of an attempt to go straight or retire, working at present in regular normal jobs. Most of the time, they are natives of the American South, and they tend to have links particula ...more
Geoff Smith
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, crime
Note to self: you don't really enjoy Elmore Leonard books. You just think you should because he has a cool name and big reputation. You find him quite hard to follow and the attitudes and characters all feel a bit dated now. You do like the physical details in the dialogue but that's not enough it it? This is the third Leonard book I've read. I think it will be the last. ...more
Dec 16, 2014 rated it liked it
I picked this book because Elmore Leonard was described to me as the “greatest American author,” and it raised my curiosity, for I have heard that term used loosely with a lot of “greats.” Perhaps “greatest” applies to the noir he was writing in: crime with a touch of black humour.
The situation is bizarre, the plot takes off at an unplanned tangent, the events are comedic, the characters are eccentric, and the good guys win while the baddies get their come-uppance in the most unexpected manner.
T.W. Dittmer
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, crime
Has to be one of my favorites of Mr. Leonard.

Intriguing plot, engaging characters, and laced with Leonard's dry humor.

For me, very enjoyable.
Dave H
Jun 19, 2015 rated it liked it
An attractive ex-nun, a semi-reformed jewel thief/mortician and a disgraced cop walk into a New Orleans Bar…

Elmore Leonard’s ‘Bandits’ is simply preposterous, but what can I say? I rather enjoyed it. It is a page-turner stuffed to the hilt with taut dialogue, dive-bars and an array of interesting characters. The supporting cast includes a Nicaraguan Colonel, a jaded G-Man, gun-toting Miskito Indian hitman and a monstrously ridiculous IRA gun-runner.

Cooler than the absinthe-infused moisture run
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
He is an interesting writer. Great plots with twists and turns. Going to read all his books
Michael Nutt
May 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Written during a period when Elmore Leonard was turning out some of his very best crime fiction, 'Bandits' (1987) is written with the author's customary ease and economy, full of his snappy dialogue, a cast of interesting characters, and a plot that picks up pace along the way.

The story begins with a corpse, in a place where death is everyday business. We are in a mortuary in New Orleans and two men are working on a road traffic victim. The scene is set with some rapid fire dialogue between the
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Even after reading 20ish books by Elmore Leonard, I've never thought of him as a political writer. Small-p political, maybe. Gender politics, politics among scoundrels, some business politics, sure. But not global politics, even when some of his novels take place outside the U.S. Politics, however, are inescapable in 1987's Bandits, a novel firmly entrenched in the mid-80s anxiety about Nicaragua and the conflict between the contras and the Sandinistas. But that actually makes it sound more seri ...more
Craig Pittman
Apr 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I heard Elmore Leonard died, I went digging through my stack of old thrillers looking for his books that I'd read long ago. Every single title I remembered the plot -- except this one. So I pulled it out and started reading.

Jack Delaney is a former New Orleans hotel thief who spent time in prison and is now eking out a living helping his brother-in-law Leo at a funeral home. This book has one of Leonard's best openings ever, with Leo asking Jack to go pick up a body at the Louisiana leper
Verge LeNoir
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you like your novels driven by mostly snap-crackling dialogue, you've found the master in Elmore Leonard and in this book published in 1987 at the height of the Nicaraguan conflict between the Sandinistas and the--then U. S. backed Contras. Mr. Leonard really shines. Then again I'm a fan so yeah.

Former Hotel thief Jack Delaney works as a morticians assistant, who's been sent to pick up a body but the body ain't really dead. Enter a former nun who used to work at a lepers hospital in Nicaragua
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I think of Leonard as a member of the hardboiled trifecta, along with Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. On the no-nonsense, world-weary, word-clipping characters front, Leonard did well. I know I can learn from his dialogue and ability to set a scene in a few words.

As far as actually telling a story... I was disappointed. So many potentially tense scenes were totally deflated, either because they were narrated by a character in the aftermath or they were too abrupt for me to figure out the
There’s something so... sweet about this one. Tenderhearted. There’s all the usual crime and craziness but then there’s an ex-nun who has been in the shit and everyone wants to be on the side of the good guys but no one is sure which side that is. It’s such an odd duck of a story. A beautiful one. I loved it.
Ask him why he didn’t kill you.
Ask him what he was doing.
Ask him what side he was on.
Franklin de Dios was wondering if he was certain about the sides. If there were more than two sides. I
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
You won't believe the zany, madcap hi-jinks that ensue when these people, each with their own selfish agenda, accidentally cross paths and become unlikely allies. What? What are the odds that something like this would ever happen? It's a good thing we've got you, Elmore Leonard, here to document such shenanigans. Pretty good stuff, guy. I even chuckled a few times. Your stories have wit. And wit matters. Thanks guy! ...more
Laura Martone
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe it's taken me this long to read an Elmore Leonard story, especially given how fond I am of the films Get Shorty and Out of Sight, not to mention the show Justified. With sharp dialogue, engaging characters, and a streamlined plot, this is definitely a crime novel worth savoring - and it doesn't hurt that it takes place in New Orleans, my favorite American city. ...more
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book has it all. Louisiana, Nicaragua, ex cons, ex nuns, oilmen, mortuaries. I really enjoyed it. Plenty of chuckles.
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
Jack Delaney, ex-jewel thief and ex-con, is working in a New Orleans mortuary as one of the terms of his parole. Less than enthusiastic at being sent to pick up a body at a leper hospital, his attitude quickly changes when he discovers (a) the "body" is very much alive young woman named Amelita, and (b) it is accompanied by a very attractive and idealistic ex-nun named Lucy. Lucy's mission is to protect Amelita from her former lover, a Nicaraguan contra colonel named Dagoberto Godoy. Once Amelit ...more
Chris DiLeo
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
First: I listened to the audio read by Frank Muller. His reading is enough reason to keep listening. (It is enough reason to listen to any book he narrates.)

Second: Leonard is a master of engaging prose. He writes in a way that holds the reader's interest. His books are dialogue heavy, and the dialogue is always authentic-sounding. Leonard famously said that he tries to "leave out the boring parts," and for the most part he succeeds here. One strategy he uses consistently is to present descripti
Larry Peninger
May 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I am trying to whittle my way through the Elmore Leonard greatest of the great. While this one was not the greatest it still delivers in a great plot and characters.
The characters are not fully developed but they have a feeling of real people doing the best they can with they have been given. They are some aging criminals or just bad guys hoping for the last big thing to come their way. They are people doing what they done all their lives. This time hoping not to be the real bad guys as they st
Zach Franz
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only other Elmore Leonard book I've read is Pronto; that was good. This is better.

I don't so much read him for his plots; they're all essentially the same. His characters also share similarities from book to book: some are weasels; others are mysterious, dangerous, if not quite femme fatales; still others have their heart in the right place even if their heads are on the wrong side of the law.

I read him, more than anything, for his writing. There is plenty of coarse language and violence, bu
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I always enjoy Elmore Leonard particularly the conversations between his main characters. Dialogue crackles along and is often so witty and slick that you can almost picture yourself there.
Leonard's plot lines are usually well constructed and convincing. Not so here - an elastic band stretched to it's credibility limits applies.
A Guatemalan general and erstwhile sophisticated thug pursuing and enamoured of a beautiful peasant girl escaping from a leper hospital. where all his troops massacre t
Jun 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Returning to Elmore Leonard years after believing I had read everything. I especially loved the settings of his novels, mostly Detroit and Miami. But Bandits is set in New Orleans, a city I know well, so it was a pleasure returning to the scene of the crime. Unfortunately the story was a little weak. Characters of course are second to none, and in this one, the women really shine. Lucy, the former nun from Nicaraugra, is wonderful, as is Jack's ex-girlfriend, Helene, who got him sent up once and ...more
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I bought a bunch of Elmore Leonard books at a used book sale a few years ago, and am working my way through them so I can discard them and clear the book shelf. A lot of what I admire about Elmore Leonard is on display here - his driven plots, his brisk pacing, his ability to map things out in the imagination like a movie. But I have to accept that they're not really my thing.

This book, it's worth noting, is very dated. Lots of racial slurs, etc. It was written in the 1980s and it reflects the a
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, crime
This was kind of weird in that the book isn't great, but it has great stuff in it. If you know what I mean. Great dialogue, great sentences, great characters. But the story itself isn't great. There's a few tense and suspenseful scenes, but mostly it's just people sitting around having conversations, talking about what they're going to do rather than actually doing anything. If your a Leonard completionist it's worth a read, but other than that you can skip it. ...more
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nice to zip through an Elmore had been at least a year and maybe two since I read one. I don't think I've ever really disliked one of his books, but this was particularly fun. Appealing characters, snappy dialogue, nice setting in and around New Orleans. Leonard is so great at bringing real-seeming characters together in some conflict and then managing to resolve everything in just the right way. His characters always seem to make decisions that seem natural and correct. ...more
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never know with Elmore whether he is trying for funny or being serious. I have read others who try this trick and fail. Not Elmore Leonard. He just tells the story and I go along for the ride. Written in 1987, Leonard takes us to New Orleans, where we meet Lucy an ex-nun, Jack an ex-con and Roy an ex-cop /ex-con. They plan on stealing the money meant for the Contras of Nicaragua. That was their first mistake.
Nicholas Story, solicitor
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great storyline - right up there with his best. The beginning is so brilliant that I found myself fighting against myself not to skip bits out, so eager was I to discover what happened next. I then found it a bit saggy in the middle, before it redeems itself at the end. Strangely for the mighty Elmore, there are a couple of characters who seem slightly superfluous (Cullen is amusing enough, but doesn't add much). Nonetheless, highly recommended. ...more
Ricky McAllister
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I’m a huge Elmore Leonard fan and to my mind he has never written a bad book. Elements of this were good but as a whole, it didn’t quite work. Normally the characters come first and the plot works itself out from there. Here, the story was front and centre, meaning the characters were not as well drawn as they tend to be. So when the characters aren’t as well drawn...the story isn’t as good. It’s a circular argument I know. A lesser Leonard novel...but not a bad one. Just not a great one.
Race Bannon
Jun 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I love Elmore Leonard's writing but I have to say I
was a bit disappointed in this one. It starts off
too serious and with what I will call "philosophy"
about the war in Nicaragua. It only gets to his
typical plot machinations and dialogue in the
later part of the book. The ending is somewhat
of a downer too.
Still recommended as this author cannot write
a bad book, but be prepared for something a
little different than his norm.
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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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