Djibouti by Elmore Leonard

For an 85-year-old guy who lives in the suburbs of Detroit, Elmore Leonard sure gets around. We’ve run into him in Miami, of course, and Hollywood, and many other points on the Western side of the compass. He’s probably just about as American as a writer can be. So, what on earth is the man doing in the northeastern corner of Africa, mixed up in a messy tale of intrigue and suspense about Somali pirates and Al Qaeda?

Leonard’s consummate skill as a novelist is rooted in his mastery of dialogue. Few writers can equal the fidelity of his characters’ conversations. In Get Shorty, Hombre, Out of Sight, Mr. Majestyk, and numerous other crime novels, Leonard has created a roomful of utterly believable and entertaining characters. Sad to say, though, he’s ventured out of familiar territory — and apparently out of his depth — with this foray into the Middle East.

Djibouti by Elmore Leonard ★★☆☆☆

If you want to read a story in which Arabs think and talk in ways that are hard to distinguish from an African-American from New Orleans, read Djibouti. Otherwise, don’t bother.

Maybe Elmore Leonard’s next book will be grounded safely back within the familiar confines of the United States. We can only hope.

For additional reading

You might also enjoy my posts:

For an abundance of great mystery stories, go to Top 20 suspenseful detective novels. And if you’re looking for exciting historical novels, check out Top 10 historical mysteries and thrillers reviewed here.

And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.