The summer before last and into the winter, the fiance and I went on a used book extravaganza. That was before we acquired a record player so we put all of our hunting and collecting efforts into seeing out new used books stores, some even hidden away in seedy neighborhood was grating on the windows, and seeking out new books all the while realizing that life is too short to actually read the books we have housed in our closets and offices. When I came across Be Cool at one of these used book stores, I bought it. (I think, at least. I can’t seem to find it.) Be Cool is one of my favorite movies even though it’s a sequel. I’ve only seen Get Shorty once but I had to find the book. Believe it or not, it took months for me to come across it. I did. I bought it. I put it on my bookshelf, which is prime real estate. Then I started playing that game where I was going to read it one day but not today.
Apparently, all you have to do to get to the top of my reading stack is die. Who knew?
I’m glad that I made time for this one, though. Leonard has a great way of writing, something like a more amusing and vulgar Hemingway. The writing is simple, not flowery, and perfectly suits this kind of story. If I had to categorize it, I would call it a comedic frolic through crime and Hollywood.
The main character, Chili, is a shylock out of Miami when his past catches up to him in the form of Ray Bones, a man he gave a scar on the forehead with a bullet a few years earlier. One of Chili’s clients, Leo, has failed to pay up due to death but Ray sends Chili to talk to the wife about a settlement. That’s when Chili discovers that Leo isn’t dead but has faked his death and ripped off an airline company, and then his wife, for $300k. Chili chases him first to Vegas, then to L.A. where he decides that he just might like to be in movies. And that’s where things get crazy.
Add in a script that everybody wants, a story that some people think would be better than the script, a spoiled movie star, an alcoholic director, an aged ex-horror/sci-fi starlet, a couple of limo guys who are into a shady business of their own, and you have a romp that it hilarious and exciting and an all around good time.
This isn’t something that I would usually read but I’m glad I gave it a chance. By the way, best last line in a book ever.