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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,531 Ratings  ·  179 Reviews
LaBrava is vintage Leonard: a blend of the true-to-life and the totally make-believe, the cinematic and the suspenseful, the world we know and a whole lot of worlds we're glad we don't. Only Leonard can concoct such a potent cocktail: one part raw humanity, one part pure insanity, a dash of lethal action, and his irresistible, eccentric spice.Joe La Brava is an ex-Secret S ...more
Paperback, 283 pages
Published May 1st 1998 by Harper Perennial (first published 1983)
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Dan Schwent
Former Secret Service agent Joe LaBrava meets an actress he fell in love with at age twelve. Now she's being blackmailed by a redneck and his Cuban partner. Or is she...? Can LaBrava get to the bottom of things before he winds up dead?

When it comes to Elmore Leonard books, they're either awesome or just okay. This one is definitely closer to okay.

The plot was pretty good. LaBrava, a photographer and former FBI man, gets entangled with Jean Shaw, an actress he's pined over for years and a blackma
Joe Valdez
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-crime
Elmore Leonard is one of my favorite writers, but my experience with his work is that it's either dynamite or dud. With forty-five novels and at least forty-two short stories to his credit, not every one of Dutch's enterprises was going to be a success. I'll never abandon Leonard because his dialogue is so good and he almost always offers a twist to his capers, but his 1983 novel LaBrava just didn't draw me in.

Published before Elmore Leonard began sort of parodying Elmore Leonard to great succes
I bought this today at the Out of the Closet thrift store on Biscayne, and once I got home and opened it up to read, discovered that it's an autographed copy! I'm irrationally thrilled by this. There's something so cool about finding out that even though I never managed to meet him, I now have a book with his signature in it. I actually don't know why that's cool and exciting to me, I guess because Leonard's one of those writers I would've liked to have met but obviously now I never will, and th ...more
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
She liked them because working with professionals brought out the best in you, you could count on them for cues, sometimes inspiration. Whereas amateurs could ruin your concentration and timing, make you look awkward.

A superbly evoked South Beach setting, a compellingly cynical film noir actress, an acutely observant Secret Service agent turned photographer, and a colorful supporting cast get embroiled in a slightly overworked and overcomplicated plot and almost win their way to genuinely grea
I have read 11 Elmore Leonard books so far and this one is the least favorite. It lacked almost everything that makes him a hailed writer of this kind of books. It wasnt enough well written hardcore story and it wasnt fun story with quirky characters like some of his other crime books. He is a rare master of great dialogue and believable shady,low life characters. Except LaBrava himself the other characters felt like a parody,vanilla versions of his other better books,characters.

This book show h
Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-dirty-south
Have I finally read enough Elmore that I guessed the twist, for once? (That is a good thing. Not a bad thing.) Still couldn’t guess how it ended, and that’s classic Elmore.

LaBrava said, “Maury, who’s crazy, you or me?”
“How do I know?” Maurice said. “Maybe both of us. Don’t ask me any hard ones.”
Mar 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“A while ago somewhere
I don’t know when
I was watching a movie with a friend.
I fell in love with the actress.
She was playing a part that I could understand.”

-Neil Young, “A Man Needs a Maid”

It took a chapter or two, after we’re finally introduced to Jean Shaw and what she means to secret service agent come photographer Joe LaBrava, that Neil Young’s song “A Man Needs a Maid” came to mind. I’m sure we all have that actress, or actor, who we’ve seen and who in our youth we maybe fell a little
Lukasz Pruski
"LaBrava got Nobles down on his spine, head hard against the wall to straddle his legs. Worked free the bluesteel revolver [...] and slipped the blunt end of the barrel into his open mouth. Nobles gagged, trying to twist free.
LaBrava said, 'Suck on it. It'll calm you down.'

Not an easy review to write as I am forced to demonstrate my own incompetence. Elmore Leonard's LaBrava received the prestigious Edgar Award for the best novel in 1984 and yet I have been unable to find anything remarkable ab
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find it rather difficult to criticise Elmore Leonard. His plots are super tight, characters are interesting and there never is a dull moment in his books. Even the dialogue is rather witty. LaBrava is Leonard on top form and has his most interesting storylines to boot.

Joe LaBrava is an ex agent turned photographer. One day, through a rich friend of his, he comes across a movie star who he idolised in his youth. It turns out though that she’s destitute and is going to be killed by a thug and hi
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found myself thinking of this book as "early Leonard," which really isn't true--sure, it predates a lot of the stuff by him that I've liked best (Get Shorty, Rum Punch, Out Of Sight) but not by that much. And more importantly, by the time he published La Brava, Leonard had been publishing novels for 30 years. Last Stand At Sabre River, a western novel of Leonard's that I read a few years ago, fits the "early" descriptor much better. And yet, with this book missing much of the dry wit that I go ...more
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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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“I spent most of my dough on booze, broads and boats and the rest I wasted.” 34 likes
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