(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Glitz is a story about police, criminals, and the people who inhabit the demimonde in which police and criminals usually operate. It portrays the fashionable resorts of Puerto Rico as well as the island’s slums, where people live on rice and beans. It contrasts the glitzy new Atlantic City, built on greed and suckers’ money, with the decaying Atlantic City of the past, where seniors dread the bulldozers that tear paths for more and yet more gambling palaces.

Vincent Mora goes to Puerto Rico to recuperate from a wound received in a shootout with a junkie in Miami. He becomes emotionally involved with Iris Ruiz, who does not like to be considered a prostitute but who lives by accepting monetary gifts from men who make love to her. Vincent does not know he is being stalked by Teddy Magyk, who plans to kill Vincent for sending him to prison seven and a half years earlier. Teddy shows his viciousness by murdering a Puerto Rican cab driver who becomes curious about him. Vincent eventually uses his contacts with the Puerto Rican police to frighten the stalker into leaving the island.

Coincidentally, Iris is leaving at the same time. She has been offered a job as a “hostess” by Tommy Donovan, an alcoholic multimillionaire who operates resorts in Puerto Rico and Atlantic City. Her career ends abruptly when she is thrown off the eighteenth floor of a luxurious new Atlantic City apartment building.

When Vincent hears of Iris’s death, he decides to investigate. He is handicapped by the fact that as a Miami police officer he has no authority in New Jersey. Not unlike Sam Spade in Dashiell Hammett’s The...

(The entire section is 675 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Glitz was Leonard’s first best seller. The book represents an artistic success as well, epitomizing the author’s mature style with a complex plot, memorable characters, and crisp dialogue. While most of his earlier crime novels had been set in Detroit, the later novels range more freely, and the action in Glitz shifts from Miami to Puerto Rico to Atlantic City, all depicted with his usual meticulous accuracy. Before visiting Atlantic City, Leonard had his research assistant, Gregg Sutter, collect a series of interviews with casino employees and police and take 180 photographs in a sequence that would give Leonard views of the entire town.

Miami police detective Vincent Mora is a typical Leonard protagonist, as Atlantic City casino operator Jackie Garbo describes him: “I said to myself, this guy’s got nice easy moves, never pushes, he listens and he learns things.” While Leonard’s “heroes” are all capable of violent behavior and are as likely to be criminals as lawmen, they prefer a subtle approach to a problem rather than direct confrontation, and they view violence as a last resort. His amoral antagonists, however, invariably consider violent solutions first. The antagonist in Glitz is Teddy Magyk, who had been arrested by Mora for first-degree sexual battery several years earlier and now, after seven and a half years in prison, is intent on revenge. He lures Mora to Atlantic City by killing a friend of his...

(The entire section is 506 words.)