Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Review of "Raylan" [3]

Raylan by Elmore Leonard
William Morrow, ISBN 978-0062119469
272 pages, January 17, 2012

Elmore Leonard is another one of those authors I have heard of, again and again, and never read. And since he has written a very large number of books, that is saying something. But it was a TV series that finally tipped the balance. The series is Justified, a series which has just started it's second season on FX and it is based on Leonard's US Marshall Raylan Givens, who has appeared previously in the novels Pronto and Riding the Rap and a short story, "Fire in the Hole".
And now, maybe riding the popularity of the show we have Mr. Givens back again, in Raylan.

I hesitate to call this a novel, because, although they are tied together, this is really more of a series of several short stories. First, we have a tale about a drug bust that turns into the classic urban myth, a man who wakes up in a bathtub to find his kidney stolen. Except in this case it is both his kidneys and they are being held hostage for a payment of $100,000. After Givens solves that one, we move on to another story, this of an evil, nasty piece of work woman who is the representative of the coal company that is strip mining the area mountains...and let's just say that she is willing to go the extra mile to get her way. It may appear that her story is left hanging as we move on to the next, but worry not. It will be resolved and in an amusing, if deadly, way. And finally, we have the story of Jackie Nevada, a college student and fantastic poker player, who skips out of jail, becoming Givens' professional as well as personal subject of interest.

I am a bit torn about this book. The stories are interesting and the book is a fast, easy read, full of great characters, not the least of which is Raylan Givens himself. The dialogue is fantastic, obviously one of Leonard's strengths. And I am sure fans of the previous books will enjoy this book. But I am not sure it is the place to start and from what I understand, viewers of the series who come to this book may be a little confused, because while some of the same folks and settings appear, there are a great, great many changes.
Still Raylan is a very good character, enough to carry this book with as much style as he wears his trademark hat and it was a fun read.

My thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book


  1. My husband and I like the TV series, but I haven't read any of the books at this time. I've been considering it, although the earlier ones were written quite some time ago and I wondered if they would be dated. This may be a series that I stick with the TV adaptation. I'm pretty good at disconnecting between book and film, but there have been a few times that I preferred the film over the book.

    Plus the TV show has Timothy Olyphant as Raylan. :-)

  2. I have the 1st season on DVD to watch. I must get to that.
    But from other reviews I read, loving the series might not mean you will like the books..and the other way around.

  3. Caite, I can't thank you enough for your post. I just started watching Justified on DVD - I think you'll enjoy it as well. I watched the behind-the-scenes commentary on the first season and learned the show was based on the short story "Fire in the Hole," but I didn't know there were more novels based on the Raylan character.

  4. I've never read this author either … though I've heard of him often.

  5. I've never read his work either. I do enjoy great dialogue, so I may have to give this one a try.


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