its the right place to set it. mvuent told me and edmund that florida is the petri dish of america, its where all the strange mutations are happening
Leonard later explained that his visits to see his mom showed him Florida’s potential as a crime novel setting.
“Visiting her, I found Miami a great locale,” Leonard told Rolling Stone. “The high crime rate, the contrast in people—rich retirees, Cubans, boat-lifters—all kinds of good things are going on there for me.”
“I think the idea of the Florida landscape got his juices flowing,” Sutter told me. “It’s the land of psychics and strippers.”
According to one of his friends, his move was born of desperation.
“Elmore showed up here in 1977…with a colossal case of writer’s block,” Bill Marshall, a Coral Gables private investigator, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 1985. “His recovery—no, his renaissance—came together in Florida because he was desperate for fresh ideas. I showed him around town, and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.”
“I THINK THE IDEA OF THE FLORIDA LANDSCAPE GOT HIS JUICES FLOWING…IT’S THE LAND OF PSYCHICS AND STRIPPERS.”
Florida, as it turned out, was a perfect example of a sunny place for shady people, occupied by both the obscenely wealthy and the desperately poor. Leonard opens his 1981 novel Split Images with a rich psychopath in Palm Beach shooting a Haitian immigrant dead, then hiring the cop who does a lackadaisical job of investigating the crime to help him pull off another, bigger murder.
“I didn’t start paying attention to the contrast between the beauty on the surface and the corruption underneath till I started hanging out with Bill Marshall again,” Leonard told the Sun-Sentinel. “In Miami Beach, you’ve got retired car dealers, dressed in bright yellow shirts and paisley pants, walking down the street—and right next to them are guys who just got out of a Cuban prison, pachucos with tattoos on their hands for killing people. I thought, what could happen in a tense setting like that? What characters would emerge?”
As it turned out, some pretty funny ones.
“He really grooved on all the quirky characters that are gravitationally attracted to Florida,” said Neely Tucker, a friend of Leonard’s who had been a reporter for both the Miami Herald and the Detroit News. “I don’t think Dutch became fully Dutch until he put that Florida touch in there.”
you're the best travel writer working todaymutant is a good way to think about it. there is a thing that americans say a lot which is that florida is 'weird'. seems like a hodgepodge of different people down there in the tropical heat. there aren't many places like that, tropical humidity and built around cars in that american way. the place attracts a lot of snobbery. i was in miami for two days and absolutely hated it. stayed in a haitian neighborhood and didn't have a car. waiting for buses on corners of these huge intersections. rowdy lads hanging out by their cars on the corners. thick warm air even in january. collapsing buildings, people living in tents, massive cars, neon, people driving around south beach on these kind of quad bike skeleton chassis things, rap everywhere, legs and muscles. lots of money about in miami at least. hostile environment for a pedestrian trying to wander around. you're either outside in the fug or in glistening AC. cuban uber drivers who spoke no english at all. wikipedia says the white population of miami is 14%. it felt like a part of the hispanophone world to me. the carribean loomed large.