Vincent Majestyk saw too much death in the jungles of Southeast Asia. All he wants to do now is farm his melons and forget. But peace can be an elusive commodity, even in the Arizona hinterlands - and especially when the local mob is calling all the shots. And one quiet, proud man's refusal to be strong-armed by a powerful hood is about to start a violent chain reaction that will leave Mr. Majestyk ruined, in shackles, and without a friend in the world - except for one tough and beautiful woman. But his tormentors never realized something about their mark: this is not his first war. Vince Majestyk knows more than they'll ever know about survival... and everything about revenge.
©1974 Elmore Leonard (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers
"Whatever you call his novels, they always read like Elmore Leonard, distinctive in style and vision, brilliantly inventive in plot and characters." (Los Angeles Times)
I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.
Faithful readers of mine will have heard me rave on at length about these two guys. I'm gonna do it again. Mr. Majestyk is both Leonard and Muller at the peaks of their careers, in the mid-70's. Both of them continued to do great work for several more decades. Mr. Majestyk appears in a later book by Leonard, when he is a seedy, broken down old judge in Detroit, if memory serves. In this book Vince Majestyk is a strong, brave, healthy young man who just wants to raise melons, have them picked by migrants and then sold to food brokers. His peaceful life is busted in on by gangsters who want him to use boozehounds to do the picking, rather than the skilled Mexican workers who follow ripening crops all over the country, earning enough money to send back to their families, but leading a nomadic, roaming life. Leonard sketches out his hero and several of the workers, in particular one very attractive young woman. It takes Leonard a few paragraphs to establish what lesser writers take chapters to accomplish. As I have quoted Leonard before, when asked why his books are so short, says, "I leave out the stuff that people don't read."
Mr. Majestyk resists the encroachment of these lowlifes onto his fields, and he soon runs afoul of one very fowl gangster, Frank Renda. The cat and mouse chase that the two men lead is so thrilling that you will genuinely have trouble stopping to do anything else before you finish this. THIS is why we read audiobooks.
Frank Muller was my favorite narrator for years, until he died, and then along came Edoardo Ballerini. Muller's voice is what we talk about when we say "mellifluous," that is, if we say that. His phrasing, pauses, voicing, nuances of individual characters: I could go on praising him for a long time. The book manages to be funny in addition to being everything else that it is. I won't spoil the ending, but you will probably see it coming from a mile away. The enjoyment is in the getting there. Majestyk's heroics are not overblown or cartoonish, although he does manage to off about a dozen bums in the book. The romance is very briefly sketched, but charming nonetheless. I was somewhere in the middle of about five books when I spotted this one: I dropped all the others and read this one start-to-finish without even thinking about the others. Not everything Leonard ever wrote was spectacularly good. A lot of it was. The same is true for Frank Muller. Once you have read Polar Star (please!) you will forgive Mr. Muller any lesser works, particularly since he is not the guy writing the books. The hit TV series Justified is based on a book by Leonard called Raylan. Any book involving Raylan Givens is well worth your time. I hope you have as much fun as I do with these gentlemen. It is a unique pleasure.
Elmore Leonard is such a master of dialog and Frank Muller's narration was among the more enjoyable I've listened to.
Elmore Leonard has a way of constructing scenarios that usually end with someone getting shot full of holes or blown to bits. What love about Leonard though, is that he takes a much more casual approach to the build up of the action. Events feel like natural progression rather than something pushed along forceably. This story is a prime example. One small occurrence starts a domino effect that cascades into a beautiful crescendo of violence by the end.
The amazing abilities of Frank Muller CANNOT be understated. He is an entire cast of characters unto himself in every book he reads (and he's read A LOT of them). Each of the characters in this book have a unique life to them that only a gifted narrator can give. He makes the story come alive and dance in your minds eye. Frank was one of the greats.
This was a good book for a quick read. Not too exciting, but an OK story that didn't bog down anywhere. While it didn't make me want to run out and find another book by this author, I wouldn't turn down one if it was on sale...
Dusty. Mean. Enjoyable.
Frank Muller's performance is spot on perfect. Muller brings so much "character" to the character. Other performers would have made this a so-so book. Muller enhanced the experience.
Guts, Love, and a field of Ripe Melons.
I know Charles Bronson was in the 70's movie. I haven't seen it in years--not since I was a kid. I don't remember it (wasn't it a bit different from the book?).
But, as the narrator read this book, I saw a young, 70's Clint Eastwood in my head, not Charles Bronson. The image is so strong that I wonder if Elmore Leonard had Clint in mind when he was writing the story. Even the speech patterns match up to the early, take-no-prisoners Eastwood (thinking of Clint''s work in the Dirty Harry movies and in The Man With No Name westerns).
This is a great neo-noirish book to give a listen.
Leonard's story and characters are always edgy and realistic. Muller's narration
brings the words to life.
Say something about yourself!
Cutting to the chase, I really liked this book. It reads a little like a western, but sprinkled with a smattering of a taste of the late 1960's or early 1970's. I had seen the movie starring the late Charles Bronson many years ago, and enjoyed it. However, as is quite often the case, the book is better than the movie.
In Mr. Majestyk one has a real "knight without armor in a savage land" who takes on racial prejudice, a callous legal system, punks in a Dodge Charger (of all things) and organized crime, with an eye towards righting wrongs while all the time trying to protect his precious melons. The notion of a hero who is willing to truly risk everything for what he or she perceives as right is not new to this genre, but it is done so well here under the umbrella of "you have pushed me far enough." The writing is very clear, but with a lot of action, so boredom isn't ever a concern.
The late Frank Muller narrated this book and does an excellent job in getting everything right in terms of narration. Muller was good in everything he narrated, but "Mr. Majestyk" was a great vehicle for his excellent skills.
Elmore Leonard was fantastic as usual. I love Leonard's attention to detail and how he describes such detail in his books. Each paragraph creates a picture in my head that is easy to remember. He goes into detail about small things without becoming redundant. It's a great read!
Rabbi Steve the Storyteller
Read by one of the best.
This is Elmore "Dutch" Leonard as he was transitioning from Westerns to Crime, and is one of those which includes the best of both worlds.
And read by one of my favorite readers, The late great Frank Muller.
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