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    PAGAN BABIES by Elmore Leonard

    Delacorte Press, September 2000

    Father Terry Dunn spent the last five years in Rwanda, witnessing the genocide that continues to tear apart that African nation. He returns to Detroit when his mother dies planning to raise money for Rwandan orphans--money which he intends to keep for himself. In Detroit, he meets up with Debbie Dewey, recently freed from prison. Together, they come up with a scam which will raise Terry's money and give Debbie her revenge on her thieving ex-boyfriend.

    Elmore Leonard (see more reviews of novels by this author) has a unique capability to write about morally ambiguous characters and make the reader like them despite, or even because of their flaws (Leonard also wrote the fabulous STICK and GET SHORTY). Terry is wonderfully amoral without being evil, a man who knows he is tough and doesn't have to prove it to anyone. Still, Terry is searching for something--something he believes Debbie may have to give him. An assortment of Mafia types, logically connected through Debbie's ex-boyfriend, complete the character cast. Leonard's dialogue is vivid and authentic, down to Debbie's Lauren Bacall-like tough-girl act.

    Three Stars

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