(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Elmore Leonard’s thirty-first novel has the kind of raffish characters, surprising turns of events and mordant comments on the contemporary scene that his readers have learned to expect. In PRONTO, an aging Miami bookie named Harry Arno is framed by federal agents trying to snare bigger crooks. After narrowly escaping an assassin sent by the mob boss he reports to, Harry flees to Italy, trying to avoid the Zip, a Sicilian killer determined to get him as a matter of honor.

Harry’s flight to the supposedly secret destination of Rapallo attracts a virtual army of followers. The Zip arrives to be greeted by a large group of cooperative Mafiosi. Harry’s girl friend, a topless dancer named Joyce Patton, tries to sneak her way from Miami to Harry’s villa when he summons her. She is shepherded from the airport by Robert Gee, an American veteran who has signed on to be Harry’s cook and bodyguard. She is followed by Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshal; Harry had twice given Givens the slip when the Marshal was assigned to guard him, but Givens does not resent this. He wants to bring Harry back to Miami, where the charges against him have been dropped.

The action in Rapallo is complicated and violent. Givens, who has seemed somewhat dim, turns out to be more clever than any of the other characters suspect, and is a gunfighter worthy of the old Western tradition of U.S. Marshals. The action ends in Miami, in a further outburst of violence and an ironic distribution of characters. Elmore Leonard’s reputation as one of the best writers of offbeat crime fiction remains secure.

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Reverting to his background as a writer of westerns, Leonard utilizes for this novel a standard plot technique of that other genre. From...

(The entire section is 241 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Much crime fiction is formula writing, and since most practitioners of the genre are prolific, producing at least one full-length work a...

(The entire section is 423 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The action of this novel focuses upon organized crime, which Leonard presents in all its sleazy criminality; however, in addition to...

(The entire section is 281 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Leonard's close reading of Ernest Hemingway (particularly For Whom the Bell Tolls) focused his attention on dialogue and point of...

(The entire section is 81 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The setting, characters, and situations recall LaBrava and other Leonard novels in which lawmen are at risk. The plot, built around a...

(The entire section is 134 words.)