Thursday, November 18, 2010

Riding the Rap

Riding the Rap by Elmore Leonard

This is the first book by Elmore Leonard that I've ever read. But I was pretty confident before ever starting it that I was going to really enjoy it, and I did. He's one of those authors that has been around for decades and is considered one of the best in the the business, but who had managed to stay under my radar till now. I decided I needed to read his books after watching the first season of  Justified on television which is based on a character that appears in a couple of Leonard's books and one of his short stories. Riding the Rap is one of those books.

Raylan Givins is a U.S. Marshall working in Florida who has the soul of a 19th century Texas Ranger. He wears the cowboy hat and boots and has a no-nonsense approach to dealing with criminals. One of his associates, Harry Arno, a retiring bookie goes missing while trying to collect on some outstanding gambling debts. Raylan quickly gets on the trail of his abductors, a group of second-rate criminals who got the idea for their kidnapping scheme while stoned and watching a movie.

The story was fine, but a little cliche at times. Since this wasn't the first story with these main characters I would have appreciated it if a little more backstory would have been provided throughout the book. As it is, it reads more like an extended short story where you begin in the middle of the characters' lives right as a major event is taking place and then you go forward. I enjoyed the black humor thrown in. It was fun to see the ineptitude of the criminals on display at most of the stages of their scheme. But I feel like this book was pretty average. I was relieved to read other reviews on this book and find that most Leonard fans don't consider this one up to his normal standard. That means I'll be reading more. 

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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