Out of Sight Summary
by Elmore Leonard

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Out of Sight Summary

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

In Out of Sight, the trademark gritty realism of Elmore Leonard’s oeuvre is blended with a romance between criminal Jack Foley and U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco. The novel’s opening is widely acknowledged to rank among Leonard’s best, as he takes the reader through a daring prison break, modeled on a real escape from that same prison in 1995. As is his practice, the point of view shifts among three different characters in the first three chapters, as the same scene is viewed from three different angles.

The opening sentence of the novel, “Foley had never seen a prison where you could walk right up to the fence without getting shot,” immediately locates the reader both psychologically—within Foley’s consciousness, attitudes, and experience—and physically—just inside the fence of a medium-security Florida prison. The second chapter begins as Sisco pulls up to the parking area just outside that same fence, looking at the same point from the other side, both literally—outside the prison versus inside—and figuratively—cop versus criminal. As she sits in her car, the headlights from a car pulling into the row behind her hit her rearview mirror. The opening of chapter 3, “Buddy saw the mirror flash and blond hair in his headlights, a woman in the blue Chevy Caprice parked right in front of him,” takes the reader inside that second car as it introduces a third major character, Orren “Buddy” Bragg, a former partner of Foley who has arrived to help him escape. The escape itself is thus rendered in great visual depth, as the reader sees Buddy see Sisco see Foley as he emerges from a tunnel by the fence. Such detailed multiple visualizations are especially common in Leonard’s later novels, which can resemble screenplays in their rapid cuts from character to character and their close specification of the precise angles and fields of vision from which characters view scenes.

After the successful prison break, the plot takes all these characters to Detroit, where the suspense intensifies as the relatively gentle and sympathetic Foley and Buddy are thrown...

(The entire section is 533 words.)