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THE BEST BOOKS OF 1996 | FICTION

OUT OF SIGHT By Elmore Leonard; Delacorte Press: 296 pp., $22.95

December 29, 1996|ED McBAIN

"Out of Sight" is a rarity in the Leonard canon: It is a genuine love story. True, there have been boy-girl plots in many of his previous books, but these were always subservient to the convoluted bad guy-good guy machinations of the main story. Here, the love story is the novel's engine, and--wouldn't you know it?--its principals are a bad guy and a good guy.

The bad guy is 47-year-old Jack Foley, who's robbed more banks than he can remember and who's done far too much time in prisons hither and yon, one of which he's escaping from as the story begins. The good "guy" is a 29-year-old deputy U.S. marshal named Karen Sisco, who has a penchant for shotguns and short skirts. Serving process at the prison, Karen finds herself in the middle of the break and subsequently in the trunk of the getaway car with Jack.

Neither Karen nor Jack can help wondering what might have happened if they were people other than who they are. Whether they will, in fact, meet again, and whether their diametrically opposed occupations will stand in the way of true love become in Leonard's telling the stuff of high romance and taut suspense.

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