Mr. Majestyk by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When someone tries to strongarm melon farmer Vincent Majestyk, he quickly ends up beaten and soon Majestyk is in jail. However, the prison bus is attacked and Majestyk finds himself on the run with Frank Renda, a hitman. That's when things get complicated. Will Majestyk be able to fix the situation and get his melon crop in on time?
This early Elmore Leonard book is a pretty smooth read, like all of his stuff. Vincent Majestyk, melon farmer and Vietnam vet, is one of Leonard's typical good guys, rough around the edges and not entirely law-abiding. The plot's not all that complicated. Majestyk wrongs a couple people and they want him dead. Too bad no one told them he was a ranger in Laos and earned a Silver Star...
Charles Bronson played Majestyk in the movie. I've never seen it but it was easy to picture Bronson in the lead role as I read. Majestyk is the take-no-shit kind of guy Bronson usually played. He's not John Rambo but he's definitely capable. He just wants to get his damn melon crop in on time!
The bad guys are pretty par for the Leonardine course: slick but not as slick as they think they are. Unlike some of old Dutch's villains, I didn't find any of them to be very likeable and it was very satisfying once Majestyk starts taking the law into his own hands. If they had any redeeming qualities, I might have felt bad for them.
The story is one long cat and mouse game and it starts feeling like a western close to the end, like a lot of Elmore Leonard tales. I guess what I'm saying is that while Mr. Majestyk feels like a lot of Elmore Leonard tales, it's definitely one of the better ones. It's a high three or a low four.
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