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Raylan: A Novel Paperback – December 26, 2012
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“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
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.
Top customer reviews
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Raylan Givens is a recurring character (Pronto, Riding the Rap, Fire in the Hole). He is with the U.S. Marshall Service (USMS) and while he is honest to a fault, he retains a fairness streak which calls some of his conduct into question on the right/wrong scale. He wears a cowboy hat which rounds out his character as an intimidating force and has a coolness which allows him to operate under pressure as if he was doing his nails. He is not without a conscience but it won't spend time bothering him if the perp had it coming. At times he is judge, jury and executioner.
He keeps a soft spot in his heart for the Kentucky, Southern Ohio, West Virginia type which while traveling in the world of the underground exhibits a strong set of rules by which the usual suspect will try to operate. The Mafia had such rules generally housed in the code of conduct we civilians like to call Omerta. You might say Raylan escaped from the drear life of coal mining and petty crime the features of which are early death, poverty, educational ignorance and fringe unlawfulness. Because of this he will cut a break where it is called for and he knows how to go back. He was born in Harlan County Kentucky and is known throughout the tri-state area where he is myth, legend and real deal. He carries a standard issue Glock chambered for S&W .40 caliber but is generally proficent in any weapon.
In the TV series (Justified) based on his character he is portrayed by Timothy Olyphant which is not exactly how I would have cast him. I pictured him more on the line of a young (mid 30's) James Caan. He is a womanizer but with a respectful attitude. The main feature of his complicated personality is his ability to see through the fog and key in on the nugget which is the heart of the case. It is intended to appear uncanny but in his mind it is the familiar coupled with intuitive logic fueled by intense objectivity.
In this book which is a show case for his talent for cutting to the chase he shows incredible patience in solving crimes especially suited to the USMS. These include, bank robbery, large scale drug trafficking, threats aimed at Coal Company executives, and the theft of kidneys from living breathing human beings. Leonard has seamlessly woven these arguably separate stories into one tale which is by turns disparate yet cohesive. The characters pop in and out of each scenario with ease which may be only a slight flaw in what is otherwise a fun, fast paced, action packed story. The folks run the gamut from top to bottom on the social and economic scales. One individual which Raylan is intensely fascinated with is a college junior who makes her living and expenses by playing Texas Hold'em. This is not a crime but there is speculation that she might be associated with other criminal elements and winds up on a fugitive list.
In one part of the story Raylan finds himself serving as a body guard to a Coal Company lawyer who is doing damage control by trying to spin the company conduct into community service with only the miner, his family, and nature's best interest in mind. This is a tight rope for Raylan since this community is the one he escaped from and he is known by all. To add to the problem the attorney has designs on Raylan as a prospective sack mate. His extrication from this conundrum is fascinating, and rest of the story is the sugar which sweetens Leonard novels. His mastery of the black mountain vernacular lends that dash of realism necessary to elevate this adventure from tall tale to believing you actually witnessed the events. As with all of his myriad books this one will be hard to put down. 2.75* GIBO
The writing is spare but nothing is lacking to give a perfect picture of each character. The people are so real and so human I feel like I'm listening to local gossip. There is an underlying note of compassion for each person no matter whether he or she is the good guy or bad.
People get killed, most of whom deserved it or asked for it. Raylan is a most humble (because he is sure of his skills) Marshall and keeps his eye on the goal through many diversions.
Most recent customer reviews
Loved the Justified series. The book provided more character and plot development. I like how Leonard keeps the characters on a narrow moral