RARA-AVIS: Freaky Deaky

From: domer ( domer89@sbt.infi.net)
Date: 17 Mar 2000

I finished "Freaky Deaky" a couple nights ago, and it was something of a letdown. The first time I read it, in 1992, it was the second or third Leonard novel I'd read, and in the words of a recent string, I was
"blown away." The characters, the plot, the dialogue, the pacing, the use of '60s references all hooked me from the start and didn't let go until the book ended.

This time, I saw some of the characters as still having life in them
(Chris Mankowski, Donnell, Woody Ricks), but Greta seemed flat and there only as a means to advance the plot. Also, the implausibility of her and Mankowski hooking up, especially so fast, really stuck out this time.

The plot still worked well enough and was enjoyable as a pleasure ride. Since I'd forgotten the ending, it climaxed quite nicely. Same for the dialogue.

The pacing seemed a bit a slow at first this time out. It didn't really start to become a Leonard novel until Mark Ricks was killed.

Some of the '60s stuff seemed a bit tired, but, these days, it usually does.

As for reading it as a hardboiled novel, my impression remains the same as in 1992; it's a terrific caper novel with violence, not quite light, but not hardboiled, either. Leonard's written much harder stuff than this, and I think, after his mainstream attempt with "Touch," "Freaky Deaky" might have been the start in the progression toward "Get Shorty"
(the first Leonard I read, when it was new), "Maximum Bob," "Rum Punch" and his other '90s work, which has tended much more toward the comic caper subgenre than toward hardboiled, even if he's more violent and vulgar than Donald Westlake and less absurd than Carl Hiaasen.

I'd still recommend as a good novel, but I wouldn't hold it up as Leonard's gift to the hardboiled genre.


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