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.