Pagan Babies

Pagan Babies

Book - 2000
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In Rwanda during the genocide, Hutu thugs storm into a church and kill everyone except Father Terry Dunn, on the alter saying his first mass. He's powerless to do anything about it--until one day he faces several of the killers and exacts a chilling penance.  But is Terry Dunn really a priest?   He doesn't always appear to act like one. He comes home to Detroit and runs into Debbie Dewey who's doing standup at a comedy club. In her set, Debbie tells what it was like in prison, down for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Terry and Debie hit it off; they have the same sense of humor and similar goals in that both are out to raise money. Terry says for the Little Orphans of Rwanda; Debbie to score off a guy who conned her out of sixty-seven thousand dollars. This is Randy, now wealthy, who runs a fashionable restaurant and is connected to the Detroit Mafia. It's Debbie who keeps prying until she learns the bizarre truth about Terry; Debbie who sells him on going in together for a much bigger payoff than either could manage alone.  What happened in Rwanda remains alive through the unexpected twists and turns of the plot. But even with this tragic background. Pagan Babies comes off as Leonard's funniest straight-faced novel to date.
Publisher: New York : Delacorte Press, 2000
ISBN: 9780385333924
0385333927
Branch Call Number: M LEO
Characteristics: 263 p. ;,25 cm

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lukasevansherman
May 05, 2015

"I remember in grade school there'd be a jar in the classroom and a sign that said FOR THE PAGAN BABIES, and we'd put change in it left from our lunch money."
Late Elmore Leonard novel that while using a familiar crime scenario, also engages with larger historical issues, in this case the 1994 Rwandan genocide. His jaded, but moral priest protagonist could've stepped out of a Graham Greene book. "Cuba Libre" and "Cat Chaser" are other novels in a similar vein. Always an entertaining read from one of our great crime writers.

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