Book Review: Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch

Posted August 25, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch

Rum Punch


Elmore Leonard

crime mystery in Hardcover edition that was published by Orion Books on December 1, 2004 and has 304 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

A crime novel involving gun running and smuggling in Florida.

My Take

It has parallels with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series in its easy, laid back style while it’s casually violent on the criminal side. On the cop side, they’re also easy and laid back and good with laying it on thick. I would like to know who snitched about the money Jackie’s bringing in.

“She said, ‘That man works? Has a job?’

‘He’s a bail bondsman.’

‘I wondered,’ Simone said, ‘”cause he don’t know shit about robbing people.'”

Jackie is somethin’ else; she’s smart, she’s good. She plays it cool in jail, with Ordell, and with Max as she comes up with plans to jack everyone. Max certainly wonders until he decides not to sweat it.

Poor Louis. He tries to rob a liquor store, and oopsies. Stupid move, but it gets so much funnier and stoopider when them jackboys still don’t realize they should’a finished high school as they work out the letters so they can figure out the words so they can read them instructions, lol. Actually, they sound a lot like me when I’m trying to figure out what the destructions say when I’m trying to assemble somethin’. Hmmmm…

Then there’s Ordell’s women. Man, he is such a user. It’s interesting to view these four women, how different they are, the different reactions and fall-outs for each of them. Each is talented in a different way. Well, okay, it’s really only Sheronda and Simone who have something going for them. Melanie certainly gets what she deserves.

Leonard pulls you back and forth, keeps you wondering how it’ll all turn out. He keeps it spare and clean with definite characters.

Interesting note to leave it on. It does make me wonder if there’s a sequel.

The Story
Ordell’s good at cleanin’ up to protect himself, and some of the people who work with him know it. Kind of a shame how many don’t.

Someone tipped the cops off about Jackie, and she’s not about to go down for Ordell.

The Characters

Jackie Burke is a middle-aged stewardess, in good shape, working Islands Air. She also brings money in for Ordell.

Max Cherry has been miserably married for twenty-seven years and works as a bail bondsman for Glades Mutual. He seems a very gentlemanly sort with honor. Renee is his user of a wife with her art gallery, Gallery Renee, and her snotty busboy artist, Da-veed. Winston Powell is another licensed bondsman and a friend of Max’s.

Special Agent Ray Nicolet is with ATF these days, and Special Agent Faron Tyler is with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Division of Criminal Investigation. They’ve been friends since FSU. Cheryl is Tyler’s spouse, a housewife. Anita is Nicolet’s ex, an x-ray technician.

Ordell Robbie, a.k.a., Whitebread, is a light-skinned black man who’s a player and thinks he’s all that. He certainly has the coldness down. Louis Gara is an old friend who happens to be a dark-skinned white man and wants to be a player. Oh, well. An ex-con, he’s currently working in Glades Mutual along with Max. Ordell’s women include Sheronda who likes to cook and puts out in gratitude, Simone is a much older woman who mimics the moves of Motown artists and is incredible in bed, and Melanie is his white girl who’s not much good for anything. Raynelle is a new one, a junkie who has lost it, but she’ll do for now.

Beaumont Livingston is one of Ordell’s people and brilliant with numbers. Mr. Cedric Walker is his contact in Freeport in the Bahamas who takes the guns. There are some jackboys who work for Ordell too: Zulu; Cujo, a.k.a., Hulon Miller, Jr.; Sweatman; and, Snow.

Big Guy, a.k.a., Gerald, is a white supremacist stockpiling a range of weapons. Richard was the man Ordell and Louis tried to pull something on some thirteen years ago.

Some of the bondees include…
Zorro. Reggie just had to go to his mom’s birthday.

The Cover and Title

The cover switches between black and red: the top half is a red background with the author’s name in black while the bottom half is a black background with the title in red. To ensure we know it’s a balmy, yet dangerous, place there’s a blue crane holding a belt of dropping bullets.

The title is code for Ordell’s operation out of the Bahamas, it’s a Rum Punch.