Raylan by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
US Marshal Raylan Givens investigates a kidney stealing ring, acts as a bodyguard to a beautiful coal mining executive, and tracks down a missing college girl named Jackie Nevada whose a poker player and possibly a bank robber.
Bad Pun Alert: I've only seen the first season of the show starring Timothy Olyphant but I felt reading this book was Justified since I was already aware of Raylan from having read Pronto years ago.
Raylan purports to be a novel but it feels more like three linked novellas. The three cases aren't directly connected but do reference each other and feature some of the same characters. As near as I can tell, only a few characters from Justified are prominently featured: Boyd Crowder, Dewey Crowe, and Art. Ava and Winona have cameo appearances but don't do a whole lot.
Of the three cases, I'd say the first was my favorite. Kidneys being stolen seemed kind of hokey until I got into the story and Raylan did his thing. Layla was a pretty interesting foil to our lawman. The second case, Raylan acting as a bodyguard to Carol Conlan, was pretty good but did more to flesh out Harlan than it did anything else. Boyd Crowder was good in it, of course. The third case was almost as good as the first and it did manage to tie together a couple plot threads from the other two. Funny how everyone but Delroy Lewis knew how that was going to turn out.
From what I've read, Elmore Leonard gave an ARC of Raylan to the writers of Justified and told them to mine it for parts. If they use the parts I think they will, the next couple seasons of Justified are going to be pretty spectacular.
So, how do I justify giving this a four? It felt a little stiff in places compared to the earlier Elmore Leonards I've recently read, Swag and 52 Pickup. It's also a little short at less than 270 pages. I also caught a couple editing mistakes, like maybe this was rushed out to coincide with the third season of Justified. All in all, I've got no big complaints. Raylan should appeal to fans of Justified and Elmore Leonard alike.
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