La Brava (novel)

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First edition
AuthorElmore Leonard
CountryUnited States
PublisherArbor House
Publication date
January 1983
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)

LaBrava, the 1983 novel by author Elmore Leonard, follows the story of Joe LaBrava, former Secret Service agent. This novel won the 1984 Edgar Award for Best Novel.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Joe LaBrava gets involved with former movie star Jean Shaw, an actress whom he had admired when he was a twelve-year-old boy, before discovering that she is being harassed by thug Richard Nobles and his partner Cundo Rey.


According to Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of The New York Times, "What's unusual about LaBrava is that no matter how complicated its implications grow, it remains firmly rooted in its realistic milieu. And despite all the double-crossing mayhem it metes out, nobody gets hurt who doesn't deserve to. The only innocent victim is the dream of Florida as a golden sunset for the old and infirm to fade peacefully into."[2]

Characters in LaBrava[edit]

  • Joe LaBrava – former Secret Service agent, photographer
  • Richard Nobles – rent-a-cop
  • Cundo Rey – Marielito partner of Richard Nobles
  • Jean Shaw – former movie star
  • Maurice Zola – friend of Joe LaBrava and Jean Shaw
  • Paco Boza – Man who travels around in a wheelchair he stole from Eastern Airlines
  • Franny Kaufman – Girl who sells beauty products. Has eye on Joe.


The setting of "LaBrava" is South Beach, Florida. Maurice Zola wistfully recalls the heyday of the 1930s and 1940s when the area had a cachet with movie stars. By the 1980s the area had fallen into disrepair and drug activity was rife. Movies such as "Scarface" and T.V. series such as "Miami Vice" showed this seamy side of South Beach. It is in this era that "LaBrava" is set. Since the 1990s the area has become gentrified.

Cancelled Movie[edit]

Dustin Hoffman was slated to appear in a movie adaption of LaBrava. It was cancelled due to a contract dispute.[3]


External links[edit]