(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...

(The entire section is 533 words.)