Cover image for Be cool
Be cool
Leonard, Elmore, 1925-2013.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Prince Frederick, MD : Recorded Books, Inc., [1999]

Physical Description:
7 audio discs (8 hrs.) : digital.
General Note:

Compact disc.
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XX(1086726.5) Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks

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The sequel to Chili Palmer's hit movie Get Leo tanked and now Chili's itching for a comeback. So when a power lunch with record-label executive and former associate Tommy Athens ends in a mob hit, he soon finds himself in an unlikely alliance with organized-crime detective Darryl Holmes and the likely next target of Russian gangsters. But where others see danger, Chili Palmer sees story possibilities. Enter Linda Moon, a singer with aspirations that go further than her current gig in a Spice Girls cover band. Chili takes over as Linda's manager, entering the world of rock stars, pop divas, and hip-hop gangstas. As he wings his way to success in the music business with his trademark cool, Chili manipulates his adversaries and advances his friends, all the while basing the plot of his new film on the action that results. Be Cool is rife with drama, jealousy, and betrayal, and all Chili needs to do is survive to make a new box-office hit.

Author Notes

Elmore John Leonard, Jr. 10/11/25 -- 8/20/13 Elmore John Leonard, Jr., popularly known as mystery and western writer Elmore Leonard, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 11, 1925. He served in the United States Naval Reserve from 1943 to 1946. He received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Detroit in 1950. After graduating, he wrote short stories and western novels as well as advertising and education film scripts. In 1967, he began to write full-time and received several awards including the 1977 Western Writers of America award and the 1984 Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe award. His other works include Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, 3:10 to Yuma, and Rum Punch. Many of his works were adapted into movies.

Library of America recently announced plans to publish the first of a three-volume collection of his books beginning in the Fall of 2014. Leonard died on August 20, 2013 from complications of a stroke he had earlier. He was 87 years old.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In Get Shorty (1990), Chili Palmer was a Miami loan shark who ventured to the strange land of Los Angeles and stumbled into the movie business. Now, with two movies under his belt, he's looking for another big hit. Both Chili Palmer novels are stories about a guy who converts events in his own life into feature-film fodder, sort of writing a movie as he goes, turning fact into fiction. As good as Get Shorty was--and it was very good--its sequel is better. Chili's new quest for a box-office smash, which involves a beautiful young singer, several shady music-business insiders, and an assortment of villains, reaches a level of comic surrealism that its predecessor only approached. This time, Chili knows from the beginning that he's going to turn his life into a movie. The loan shark turned producer becomes a kind of puppet master, staging real-life events to see how they'd work in a screenplay, orchestrating scenes, manipulating people as though they were big-screen characters. He knows there are folks who want to kill him, but what a movie it will all make--if only he can survive to the fade-out. This is a funnier novel than Get Shorty, too, chock-full of entertainment-industry in-jokes, and with a liberal supply of Leonard's always engaging characters and music-to-the-ears dialogue. With the master's name on it, Be Cool will immediately pole-vault toward the top of most best-seller lists. This one deserves its success. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

Despite the title and the cover shot of John Travolta and Uma Thurman, who star in the MGM film based on Leonard's follow-up to Get Shorty, this production is curiously lacking in "cool." A few bars of funky music kick off the story, which follows shylock-turned-movie producer Chili Palmer as he outmaneuvers mobsters, crooked music business execs and some menacing rappers to make a CD--and possibly another movie. Narrator Scott, who starred in the film Dying Young, attempts a low-key, laid-back performance, but the result sounds sedate rather than coolly casual. He gives Chili an inflectionless tone that's hardly reminiscent of the character's Italian roots, and all of his female voices sound virtually the same. Though Scott lends a few secondary characters more definition--a spot-on Brooklyn accent for Chili's friend, Tommy, and a self-consciously tough tone for a murderous music manager--this production largely succeeds in rendering Leonard's lively text listless. Based on the Delacorte hardcover (Forecasts, Nov. 16, 1998). (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

A sequel to Get Shorty, Be Cool draws movie producer and ex-loan shark Chili Palmer into the music business to find ideas for a new film. A story about a young singer trying to make it big appeals to him when he finds a perfect person to serve as his model. However, in stealing her away from her manager, Chili creates a mortal enemy, and that guy's not the only one out to get him. However, Be Cool is pure Leonard: it's loaded with characters impossible to classify as "good" or "bad," great dialog, an assortment of surprises, and a protagonist who takes everything in stride. Ron McLarty's reading is a real treat, but an even bigger treat comes after he finishes. Leonard himself then discusses how he writes, and the Stone CoyotesÄa real band on whom he modeled his novel's groupÄperforms "Odessa," the song we hear about throughout the book. Can any print edition compete with all this? Watch out, though. While this audiobook should satisfy Leonard addicts for now, it's likely to encourage them to return and clamor for more.ÄKent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Be Cool Chapter One They sat at one of the sidewalk tables at Swingers, on the side of the coffee shop along Beverly Boulevard: Chili Palmer with the Cobb salad and iced tea, Tommy Athens the grilled pesto chicken and a bottle of Evian. Every now and then people from the neighborhood would stroll past the table -- or they might come out of the Beverly Laurel, the motel nextdoor -- and if it was a girl who came by, Tommy Athens would look up and take time to check her out. It reminded Chili of when they were young guys in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and Tommy never passed a girl on the street, ever, without asking how she was doing. Chili mentioned it to him. "You still look, but you don't say anything." "Back then, Tommy said, "I went by the principle, you never know if it's there you don't break the fuckin ice. It didn't matter what they looked like, the idea was to get laid, man. Our young bodies required it. Now we're mature we're more selective. Also there's more quiff in this town per capita, you take into account all the broads hoping to get discovered. They act or they sing, mostly bad, either one. Turn around and take a look -- walking her dog, the skirt barely covers her ass. Look. Now she's posing. The dog stops to take a leak on the palm tree it gives her a chance to stand there, cock her neat little tail. She ain't bad, either." "Yeah, she's nice." Chili turned to his salad. Then looked up again as Tommy said, "You doing okay?" "You want to know if I'm making out?" "I mean in your business. How's it going? I know you did okay with Get Leo, a terrific picture, terrific. And you know what else? It was good. But the sequel -- what was it called?" "Get Lost." "Yeah, well that's what happened before I got a chance to see it, it disappeared." "It didn't open big so the studio walked away. I was against doing a sequel to begin with. But the guy running production at Tower says they're making the picture, with me or without me. I thought, well, if I come up with a good story, and if I can get somebody else to play the shylock...if you saw Get Leo you must've noticed Michael Weir wasn't right for the part. He's too fuckin short." "Yeah, but it worked," Tommy said, "because the picture was funny. I know what you're saying, though, a little guy like that into street action isn't believable. Still, it was a very funny picture." "Also," Chili said, "I didn't want to have to deal with Michael Weir again. He's a pain in the ass. He's always coming up with ideas for a shot where you have to re-light the set. So I said okay to doing a sequel, but let's get somebody else. The studio asshole says, in this tone of voice, 'If you don't use the same actor in the part, Ernest, it's not really a sequel, is it?' He's the only person in L.A. calls me Ernest. I said, 'Oh, all those different guys playing James Bond aren't in sequels?' It didn't matter. They'd already signed Michael and had a script written without telling me." "This is Get Lost you're talking about?" "Get Lost. The guy's in a car wreck and wakes up in the hospital with a head injury. He doesn't remember anything about his past life, his name, anything. Has no idea he's a shylock with mob connections or the car wreck wasn't an accident. I said to the studio guy after I read the script, 'You serious? You want to make an amnesia movie? It's what you do when you don't have an idea, you give the main character amnesia and watch him fuck up.' The studio guy says, 'Ernest,' like he's the most patient fuckin guy in the world, 'if you don't want to produce the picture tell me, we'll get somebody else.'" "So you made it and it stiffed," Tommy said. "So? Make another one." "I suggested that. I said to the studio guy, 'While we have our momentum up why don't we try it again? Call it Get Stupid.'" "It sounds like," Tommy said, "you aren't as tight over there as you were." "What, at the studio? I've got a three-picture deal at Tower, one to go, and I got a good friend. They fired the nitwit was running production and hired Elaine Levin back. She's the one okayed Get Leo, then quit for different reasons, like doing sequels; they ironed out the problems and she's back. The other day I ran into her having lunch. She asked if I had anything worth putting into development. I said, 'How about a girl works for a dating service fixing up lonely guys?' Elaine goes, 'And this lonely shylock who happens to be short comes in?' I told her no shylocks of any size, and that's all I told her." "Why? That's all you had?" "You don't want to tell something you're thinking about, hear it out loud yourself for the first time, unless you know what it's gonna sound like. It has to have an edge, an attitude. So you have to know your characters, I mean intimately, what they have for breakfast, what kind of shoes they wear.... Once you know who they are they let you know what the story is." He could tell Tommy didn't know what he was talking about. "What I'm saying, I don't think of a plot and then put characters in it. I start with different..." Be Cool . Copyright © by Elmore Leonard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Be Cool by Elmore Leonard All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.