Jack Foley is a cool customer. Whether he’s robbing a bank or breaking out of prison, Foley doesn’t let anything get to him. Until he gets a look at U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco. When Sisco shows up at his Florida prison coincidentally just as he’s making his break, Foley and his friend Buddy wind up taking her along for the ride, albeit in the trunk of their car. Foley gets right there in the trunk with her, and the close quarters only make him more infatuated with the sleek and stylish federal officer.
Even after Foley has gotten away, off to Detroit to join a questionably-planned break-in at the home of a rich fellow inmate, he can’t stop thinking about Karen Sisco. For maybe the first time, he starts to wonder what his life would have been like if he’d never started robbing banks. Would Karen have taken a second look at him if he wasn’t a wanted felon?
As for Karen, what Foley doesn’t know is that his record might not be as much of an impediment as he thinks. As revealed in her heart-to-heart conversations with her father, Karen has regrettable taste in men, including her current beau, a married cop, and, in a heckuva coincidence, an ex who also robbed banks.
Foley and Buddy find themselves in over their heads with the break-in, dealing with a misfit crew who lack their skill and panache. Karen Sisco is also in the Motor City, hot on their trail. Leonard’s gift is such that the reader genuinely isn’t sure what Karen will do when she meets Jack Foley again.
Most of you are probably familiar with the movie version, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. It was impossible not to picture them as I read the novel. The movie captured the feel of Leonard’s story, while tightening up the plot and cutting some unnecessary elements. In that way, it seems to have out-Leonarded Leonard himself.
The novel’s weakness is that Foley and Sisco are fairly thin characters. Sisco’s whole character is basically just “what if a cop was hot?” Foley is even thinner. The reader has no idea why he robs banks, except for the old Willie Sutton reason. Still, Leonard novels are always more about the vibes than they are about the plot, and there’s no doubt that the vibes are there in Out of Sight.