What, no sociopaths?

Well, A Coyote’s in the House is, after all, a book for children.

But, above all, it is a novel by Elmore Leonard who specializes in stories about everyday people who live along the edge of — or a little bit over — the line of criminality but still have an ethical code, but who find their lives intertwined with people who have no moral compass at all, which is to say, sociopaths.

Leonard has an entertaining way of working into his novels sociopaths who are as funny as they are scary — and as human as the next person, except of course for that lack of compassion, lack of empathy, lack of any sense of anyone else’s feelings.

There are no sociopaths in A Coyote’s in the House, and no criminals either.

Well, you could argue that Antwan and the other coyotes in the story are sort of criminals, inasmuch as they steal food from garbage cans and back yards and, if they run across a lost kitten or small dog or some other human pet, aren’t averse to, ahem, eating it.  But that’s just the way of nature, the great cycle of being and all that.

And there’s no real violence since all of that pet-eating is only mentioned as something that happens, and the one chance when a pet — a show cat named Lola — is facing the possibility of being eaten, she’s saved by Antwan and his friend Buddy, a former movie star dog who lives with a human family and Miss Betty, a show-dog.

There is a threat at various points in the short novel that a posse of humans with guns might take down one of the dogs or coyotes, but this is a kids book so, no, there’s no bloody massacre of any of the animal characters.

Truth be told, A Coyote’s in the House isn’t much of an Elmore Leonard novel, and, for that matter, it isn’t much of a children’s book.

Leonard makes a game try at taking on the persona of a kids-book writer, but he’s still too much himself and so the story isn’t very whimsical or pertinent or timely.  However, at the same time, there is no way that Leonard, as a kids-book writer, can really be Leonard, the highly popular adult novelist.

Actually, there would be a way for that to happen, but the story would end up too bloody for kids (at least, too bloody for adults to let kids read) and couldn’t be marketed as a children’s book.

Well, maybe Leonard’s twelve grandchildren and one great-grandson liked the book.


Patrick T. Reardon


Written by : Patrick T. Reardon

For more than three decades Patrick T. Reardon was an urban affairs writer, a feature writer, a columnist, and an editor for the Chicago Tribune. In 2000 he was one of a team of 50 staff members who won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. Now a freelance writer and poet, he has contributed chapters to several books and is the author of Faith Stripped to Its Essence. His website is https://patricktreardon.com/.

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