Summary and book reviews of Pagan Babies by Elmore Leonard

Pagan Babies

by Elmore Leonard

Pagan Babies by Elmore Leonard X
Pagan Babies by Elmore Leonard
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2000, 263 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2002, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Even with this tragic background of Rwanda Pagan Babies comes off as Leonard's funniest straight-faced novel to date.

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 Debbie 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 praying 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.

THE CHURCH HAD BECOME a tomb where forty-seven bodies turned to leather and stains had been lying on the concrete floor the past five years, though not lying where they had been shot with Kalashnikovs or hacked to death with machetes. The benches had been removed and the bodies reassembled: men, women and small children laid in rows of skulls and spines, femurs, fragments of cloth stuck to mummified remains, many of the adults missing feet, all missing bones that had been carried off by scavenging dogs.

Since the living would no longer enter the church, Fr. Terry Dunn heard confessions in the yard of the rectory, in the shade of old pines and silver eucalyptus trees.

"Bless me, Fatha, for I have sin. It has been two months from the last time I come to Confession. Since then I am fornicating with a woman from Gisenyi three times only and this is all I have done.

They would seem to fill their mouths with the English words, pronouncing each one carefully, with an accent Terry ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Playboy
Leonard is cool and darkly hilarious ... Thanks to Leonard's twisted worldview everything leading to [the ending] is pure reading pleasure.

Booklist
Leonand transposes the conventions of popular fiction as adroitly as he rattles off his signature dialogue-to-die-for ... Leonard can think as quickly as his characters.

Kirkus Reviews
A riotous several hours with guys whose idea of a suitable endearment to their last bedmate is a heartfelt, 'honey, you could be a pro.'

Publisher's Weekly
As readers watch, they'll know that they're standing at ground-zero Leonard, surrounded by some of the sweetest prose between covers this year and caught up in a crime thriller that takes admirable choices -- aesthetically and morally.

Reader Reviews

Jackie Bull

I'm a 17-year old high school senior, and I read this book about a year ago at my mom's suggestion. I would have to say that I LOVED it! I found that the characters were well developed and all had extreme importance in the plot. It had everything ...   Read More

roger howlett



Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Elmore Leonard

If you liked Pagan Babies, try these:

  • Boomsday jacket

    Boomsday

    by Christopher Buckley

    Published 2008

    About this book

    More books by this author

    One of America’s most hilarious novelists and the bestselling author of Thank You For Smoking returns with a biting comedy about generational warfare.

  • The Blade Itself jacket

    The Blade Itself

    by Marcus Sakey

    Published 2007

    About this book

    More books by this author

    Danny Carter started his life as a petty criminal, living from score to score with his friend Evan. Years later, Danny has built a new world for himself: a legitimate career, a girlfriend, and a clean conscience. He’s normal, successful. Happy. Until he spots his old partner staring him down in a smoky barroom mirror. Prison-hardened Evan, ...

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Pianist from Syria
    The Pianist from Syria
    by Aeham Ahmad
    Aeham Ahmad became famous as the face of Syrian suffering when a photo of him playing piano in the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Smiling Man
    The Smiling Man
    by Joseph Knox
    Joseph Knox's latest turns on a simple premise: an unidentified and unidentifiable murdered man is ...
  • Book Jacket: The Heavens
    The Heavens
    by Sandra Newman
    I've been a big fan of Sandra Newman's writing ever since reading her 2014 novel The Country of Ice ...
  • Book Jacket: Sugar Run
    Sugar Run
    by Mesha Maren
    Mesha Maren's debut novel is a plunge into the depths of the dark Southern gothic with pulsing and ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Last Year of the War
    by Susan Meissner

    A little-known story of WWII with great resonance for our times.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A People's History of Heaven
    by Mathangi Subramanian

    A story of love and friendship, and fighting for the places we love.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao

An extraordinary and heart-rending tale of two girls with all the odds against them.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win The Summer Country

Win up to 12 copies to share with friends or your book club!

A sweeping epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D T T! Full S A!

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.