Fifty-Two Pickup

by Elmore Leonard

“Mitch, no one ever got in trouble keeping his mouth shut.”

Mitchell, successful businessman, has been fooling around on his wife of twenty years when he’s presented with photographic evidence of his activities and forced into a blackmail situation. As a competent, thoughtful man, he resists, and soon the blackmailers up the evidence against him from infidelity to murder after they kill his mistress.

So he resists harder.

There are some marked differences between this and other classic crime novels, most notably the fish-out-of-water aspect of our victim, and the slowly unraveling competence of the criminals as their plans are challenged at every step. More often it’s masterminds competing against each other from each side, or at least the appearance of a mastermind or two. Plus some cops.

Fifty-Two Pickup is the remarkable story of an everyman with a bit of iron in him. This is one of Elmore Leonard’s first crime novels, and it’s a doozy.

He told himself he would never be able to kill like that, coldly, impersonally. Still, he wished he had a gun. Just in case he was wrong.

4+ stars


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