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Raylan: A Novel Hardcover – January 17, 2012

4 out of 5 stars 715 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Raylan Givens Series

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Editorial Reviews


“A punchy mix of crime and Kentucky coal-mine sociology . . . It’s one of Leonard’s best thrillers in years.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“With a practised ease and the craft of more than half a century of novelistic composition, Leonard works like the Picasso of crime fiction . . . Raylan is as close as it gets to creating the complete illusion of unmediated entertainment on the page.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“In addition to kinetic storytelling and spot-on dialogue, Leonard has a cool wit. . . . Characters roll from scene to scene, urged on by self-interest and greed, bumping against one another and building up steam until they’re smashing together in orgies of violence.” (New York Times Book Review)

Raylan is Leonard’s best of the 21st century—good stuff from first page to last.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

“The smarter crooks give Raylan grudging respect; his fellow lawmen grant him their highest praise: ‘You’re doin’ a job the way we like to see it done.’ The same can be said of the 86-year-old Elmore Leonard.” (Wall Street Journal)

“[Leonard’s] finely honed sentences can sound as flinty/poetic as Hemingway or as hard-boiled as Raymond Chandler. His ear for the way people talk—or should—is peerless.” (Detroit News)

“There is no greater writer of crime fiction than Elmore Leonard, and no one who has more resplendent energy. . . . Like pretty well every Leonard novel, Raylan is a delight.” (The Guardian (UK))

From the Back Cover

The revered New York Times bestselling author, recognized as “America’s greatest crime writer” (Newsweek), brings back U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, the mesmerizing hero of Pronto, Riding the Rap, and the hit FX series Justified.

With the closing of the Harlan County, Kentucky, coal mines, marijuana has become the biggest cash crop in the state. A hundred pounds of it can gross $300,000, but that’s chump change compared to the quarter million a human body can get you—especially when it’s sold off piece by piece.

So when Dickie and Coover Crowe, dope-dealing brothers known for sampling their own supply, decide to branch out into the body business, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens to stop them. But Raylan isn’t your average marshal; he’s the laconic, Stetson-wearing, fast-drawing lawman who juggles dozens of cases at a time and always shoots to kill. But by the time Raylan finds out who’s making the cuts, he’s lying naked in a bathtub, with Layla, the cool transplant nurse, about to go for his kidneys.

The bad guys are mostly gals this time around: Layla, the nurse who collects kidneys and sells them for ten grand a piece; Carol Conlan, a hard-charging coal-mine executive not above ordering a cohort to shoot point-blank a man who’s standing in her way; and Jackie Nevada, a beautiful sometime college student who can outplay anyone at the poker table and who suddenly finds herself being tracked by a handsome U.S. marshal.

Dark and droll, Raylan is pure Elmore Leonard—a page-turner filled with the sparkling dialogue and sly suspense that are the hallmarks of this modern master.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9.78006E+12
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062119469
  • ASIN: 006211946X
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (715 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Elmore Leonard wrote forty-five novels and nearly as many western and crime short stories across his highly successful career that spanned more than six decades. Some of his bestsellers include Road Dogs, Up in Honey's Room, The Hot Kid, Mr. Paradise, Tishomingo Blues, and the critically acclaimed collection of short stories Fire in the Hole. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Rum Punch, which became Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown. Justified, the hit series from FX, is based on Leonard's character Raylan Givens, who appears in Riding the Rap, Pronto, Raylan and the short story "Fire in the Hole". He was a recipient of the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA, and the Grand Master Award of the Mystery Writers of America. He was known to many as the 'Dickens of Detroit' and was a long-time resident of the Detroit area.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In the eternal argument about the chicken and the egg, the crux is on which came first. Similarly, those who read Elmore Leonard's new novel, Raylan, may wonder which came first, the novel or the second season of the TV show Justified (also featuring recurring Leonard protagonist, U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens). There are clear similarities between the two, enough to make you wonder whether the TV show inspired the novel or vice versa. But there are also significant difference, making the book its own experience. It's as if a duck came out of the chicken's egg: you'd still have a bird, but you wouldn't mistake one for the other.

As the book kicks off, Raylan must contend with low-level (and low-intelligence) dope dealers Dickie and Coover Crowe (the equivalent of the Bennett brothers in the show). The two have expanded into stealing kidneys from people and then selling them back to the victims, a plot that obviously has others with more brains involved. The Crowe patriarch, meanwhile, owns a mountain that a coal company wants (bringing up more parallels with the TV show. Assisting a beautiful executive is Boyd Crowder, who is no longer dead as in the Leonard story Fire in the Hole, but (like the TV series) is alive and semi-reformed. Added to the mix is Jackie Nevada, a college girl and brilliant poker place who is a minor fugitive. Raylan will get involved with her while pursuing a trio of stoned strippers who rob banks.

These plot lines are not so much intertwined as consecutive, giving Raylan (the book) the feel of three related novellas. This episodic feel may annoy some but it works for me: after all, this is a book that's more about a character than one overall plot.

After Leonard's one misfire of a novel, Djibouti, Raylan shows that Leonard still can deliver the goods. Even if you're new to Elmore Leonard, this is a book worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One of the best known characters created by Elmore Leonard is undoubtedly federal marshal Raylan Givens. Raylan's fame, however, rests less on the role he plays in Leonard's writings, than as the star of the brilliant F/X television series JUSTIFIED, easily one of the most critically acclaimed series on television. To the best of my knowledge (based on my own perhaps flawed reading) Raylan appears in three of Leonard's novels and one of his short stories. He was initially in the novel PRONTO, in which he intervenes to save the life of a Miami bookie and then later in RIDING THE RAP, in which he once again tries to save the life of the same bookie. Both are very good novels, though I would not rate either among his very best books, like SWAG or LaBRAVA. Raylan reappeared later in the short story "Fire in the Hole," which I have in his great short story collection WHEN THE WOMEN COME OUT TO DANCE, which is going to be reprinted shortly as FIRE IN THE HOLE. Clearly the publisher is trying to take advantage of the free publicity offered by the TV series.

The Raylan Givens of the books occupies a slightly different universe than the Raylan Givens of the television series. While Leonard has been enthusiastic about the series (although he is listed as an executive producer, he actually does no work on the show at all, the title undoubtedly being a part of the agreement for the producers of the show using his character), saying that Timothy Olyphant delivers his lines precisely the way he envisioned when writing them, he does insist that they didn't get the hat right. This is not a bad thing, in my opinion. Think of the photos you saw of Lyndon Johnson wearing his hat in the sixties. That is precisely the kind of hat that Leonard had in mind.
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Format: Paperback
This will be imponderable to those who have not watched Justified, & disappointing to those who have.
As others have said, this is Leonard merely milking the cash cow. Some of these short stories - and that is ALL this book is, 3 short stories - have a basis in the series (but not exactly).
One of the most infuriating things, to me, is how all the character talk in the exact same voice, the exact same diction. A 14 year old white girl who has never left the hills of Eastern KY talks with the identical voice as a black Cuban dude, or a couple of gun thugs, or a 60-something year old man. Or, a 30 something Marshall who went from E KY to Miami back to E KY.
Leonard has written many entertaining books. This just isn't one of them, on its own merits.
I will give this 2 stars, just because I enjoy the character of Raylan enough that I am glad to see his continuing adventures (even if some are pretty well adventures I've already seen). But otherwise, this book pretty well stinks. NOT recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Very hard, even intimidating, to be writing a review of a book by the master of crime fiction, long one of my favorite writers. If I could gush, this would be an easier assignment.

This book is basically two separate novellas, though the second one kind of diverges and can be counted as two stories also (for a total of three; such a deal!).

Raylan makes a great character in a TV series, especially portrayed by an excellent actor. But this book barely glances at Raylan as a character. In fact, in RAYLAN, the title character is sketchily formed, completely flat, relying entirely on the readers to use the TV character as a stand in.

Narrative is minimal, as the story is told almost 100% by dialog, some zesty, but not enough to make this a compelling read.

The topics, organ theft, strip mining of mountain tops, and a talented youth becoming a pro poker player, are reasonably current, but the villains are portrayed too cartoonishly, too insanely to regard the stories as social commentary.

Mr. Leonard has written a characteristically zany, loosely plotted book comprised of several Raylan stories that might make good episodes, but as components of a novel don't hold together well. Readers who have not seen the series or read other books by Mr. Leonard probably shouldn't trespass here.
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