Friday, December 11, 2015

Review: Djibouti

Djibouti Djibouti by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had never before read Elmore Leonard, but I'd heard good things, so I thought I'd give him a try. I chose Djibouti at random. It was interesting. Fiction with modern non-fiction tied in among the background. I was a little disappointed in the treatment of the story. There may be spoilers here, but: The story revolves around a woman who is a documentary filmmaker analyzing Somali pirates. It begins in a somewhat gripping yet nonchalant way with the woman showing up in Djbouti and meeting people associated with pirating around the horn of Africa. You get the sense that these are somewhat dangerous people, but that this woman ... the documentary filmmaker ... doesn't feel as if she's in danger at all.

She and her cameraman/grip/gaffer are set to go out on a boat to film these pirates doing their thing and getting their side of the story. Why are they being pirates? It's an interesting question, and one that is vaguely answered. The book shows them going out to sea, and then cuts to a single paragraph that says ... they were out to see for almost a month ... and then cuts to them back in her hotel room analyzing the footage they shot and discussing it. I felt it was a little weak, almost like watching a story unfold through flashbacks.

The rest of the tale doesn't follow this same pattern, however, as they soon realize there is more at play than just Somali pirates. There are some rather eccentric characters in the tale ... some who might be too much of a caricature to be real, but they are fun characters nonetheless. The billionaire sailor and his runway model girlfriend. The Al Qaeda members ... who might be gay, which seems incongruous with everything we know about Al Qaeda (though, perhaps not at all unlikely), the highly resourceful young man who seems to have unlimited funds, out to get our protagonists.

It was a super fast read, and was enjoyable for all the slightly unbelievable characters. I'll likely read another Elmore Leonard book again.

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