Monday, October 12, 2009

Swag, by Elmore Leonard

Frank Ryan is a man with a plan. The slick used car salesman has a list of rules for success and happiness, but what he needs is a partner. Enter Ernest Stickley, Jr. Ryan catches Stick trying to boost a car from his lot, but instead of busting him, makes him an offer he can’t refuse. The two go on a crime spree that puts all of Detroit in the palm of their hands – until they start breaking the rules.

Ryan’s Rules are as follows:

1. Always be polite on the job, say please and thank you.
2. Never say more than is necessary.
3. Never call your partner by name – unless you use a made-up name.
4. Dress well. Never look suspicious or like a bum.
5. Never use your own car. (Details to come.)
6. Never count the take in the car.
7. Never flash money in a bar or with women.
8. Never go back to an old bar or hangout once you have moved up.
9. Never tell anyone your business. Never tell a junkie even your name.
10. Never associate with people known to be in crime.

Swag is one of Elmore Leonard’s early crime novels, and it’s one of my favorites. I think I was more than 100 pages into it when I realized I had no idea what the conflict would be. But I didn’t care. The characters were interesting and the storytelling was slick, so I was content to sit back and enjoy the story.


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