Friday, February 24, 2012


Raylan by Elmore Leonard

I usually like to wait a few months in between reading books by the same author. But I was looking forward to reading Raylan too much to hold to that rule this time. I've mentioned it before, but I'm a big fan of the FX series Justified which is based on a short story by Leonard which introduced the character of Raylan Givens, the Stetson-wearing U.S. Marshall who means what he says. If he tells you he's going to shoot you on the count of ten, your best bet is to try to shoot him at nine.

To be honest, having read the previous books featuring Givens, I kind of preferred Timothy Olyphant's version of the character over Leonard's. But it seems like Leonard took some inspiration from Olyphant's portrayal when writing Raylan and I enjoyed it more than its predecessors.

There's an urban legend used to deter people from using illegal drugs about a person who wakes up one day from drug-induced unconsciousness only to discover that they're missing a kidney. Well, someone in Harlan County Kentucky has found inspiration from that legend and has quickly been able to make tens of thousands of dollars. Raylan's pretty sure he knows who's behind it and quickly finds himself in over his head.

I read an interview with Leonard where he discussed his feelings and involvement with Justified. He said he loved what the creators of the show had done with his characters and that he regularly provides ideas for the show. That involvement is apparent with Raylan. The kidney-stealing plot line and others in the book have also been plot lines in the series, which ultimately increased my enjoyment in the book. In fact last night when I was watching the show, the dialogue for a brief moment matched verbatim what I had read in the book that day.

This has turned out to be more a review of the series than the book. So I'll end by saying, if you like Justified, you'll enjoy Raylan. If you don't watch Justified, start . . . and then read Raylan.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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