Monday, July 16, 2012

All He Saw Was The Girl by Peter Leonard

Title: All He Saw Was The Girl
Author: Peter Leonard

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Kidnapping / College Students/ Italy / Mafia / Hostages)
Publisher/Publication Date: The Story Plant (5/15/2012)
Source: Partners In Crime Tours

Rating: Liked a good deal.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: Five Americans, one Roman crime syndicate, and a barrage of crimes.
Reading Challenges: A to Z, E-books

Do I like the cover?: Love it! It represents THE scene where the line 'All he saw was the girl...' is used and it has that sharp, sparse, sexy look of a fabulous crime thriller.

I'm reminded of...: Amanda Prantera, Jonathan Santlofer

First line: McCabe watched Chip offer the long-haired guy a cigarette, the guy surprising him, taking the pack of Marlboros out of Chip's hand.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy -- this is a fluffy beach crime caper, brisk and entertaining, effortless and engaging.

Why did I get this book?: I was super curious to see how Elmore Leonard's son wrote!

Review: This was an unexpected hit for me. After a slow start -- in which I kept picking up and putting this one down -- around page 80 I suddenly got sucked in, and I found Leonard wasn't doing a standard double cross crime tale.

Initially confusing -- there's about three story lines that eventually come together -- I got hooked by Leonard's breezy writing style and slightly sarcastic style. Quip-y action flick, all popcorn and soda, this was a perfect beach read.

Charles 'Chip' Tallenger III, spoiled son of a US senator, and his roommate William McCabe, scholarship student from Detroit, are doing a semester abroad in Rome. When Chip steals a taxi and crashes it, he and McCabe are arrested and bailed out by Chip's father. Local newspapers misidentify them in a photograph, and low-level Mafia thugs decide to kidnap who they believe to be the senator's son for some quick cash. Back in Detroit, Sharon Vanelli, married to a Secret Service agent, starts an affair with 'Swingin' Joey Palermo, a Mafia thug who, needless to say, is stunned when he discovers Sharon's federal connections. These twists occur early on in the book and I thought I knew where the story was headed, but Leonard pleasantly surprised me. There's some double crossing, and poor life choice decision making, some thrilling chases and shudder-inducing fight scenes. Throughout it all is a kind of sardonic humor, no one quite black-and-white, but amusingly gray, and once the story clicked for me, I found myself racing through this one.

And oh, the ending. It's so ludicrous and odd, but darkly hilarious, and I ate it up. A super satisfying, sugar-buzz of a read.


  1. I don't read a whole lot of these types of books. This one sounds interesting though.

    1. This would be a great one to dip your toe in with -- the characters are big and splashy, plus the Roman backdrop is fun, and there's a zippy speed to the story that keeps it chugging along. You kind of 'know' what's happening and the pleasure is in the smart arse remarks and pithy comebacks.

  2. Ooh..this one sounds like fun! I'm in need of some great summertime reads and this one should fit the bill nicely!

    1. Brooke -- it's perfect for the summer -- seriously, it's a magnificent weekend read or post-work unwind-with-a-glass-of-wine read!

  3. I need a good dose of popcorn fiction, and it sounds like this would be the perfect fit for me. I have a fascination with the mafia for some strange reason, and love to read stories that involve that element. I can see by your enthusiastic that you loved this one, which is a pretty good indicator that I would too. Gosh, Audra, you are always reading the most enticing books! Very nice review today!

  4. Sounds like a wild ride! That opening sentence is pretty cool as well. And actually, I really love reading anything set in Rome :)