If Elmore “Dutch” Leonard has ever written a bad story I have not read it—and I have read many, if not most, of his 40 or so published works.Which is not to say that some aren’t better than others but I don’t recall ever having finished a book by Leonard and feeling unsatisfied. And so it is with his latest opus, Raylon (William Morrow).
Those of you who are Leonard fans or are simply alert, should know that the FX series Justified (now in its 3rd season) is based on the Raylan Givens character first encountered in Leonard’s story ” Fire in the Hole” and his novel Riding the Rap. While it is uncharacteristic Dutch to resort to sequels, he has done so occasionally — Be Cool following Get Shorty and Road Dogs reprising bank robber Jack Foley from Out of Sight. In past this eschewing of series/sequels was deliberate, as optioning films rights to a story includes all iterations of the characters involved. Mama Leonard clearly did not raise a fool.
In Raylan , the Kentucky born Assistant US Marshall Givens hunts down the perpetrators of an organ stealing scheme, is assigned to body guard a cold blooded coal mine company official and tracks down a young poker playing Butler University coed who lost the twenty thousand dollars she won betting on Duke in the NCAA championship, playing in a high stakes game— who may or may not be involved in a bank robbing ring. That’s a pretty good threefer.
Naturally weird losers and felons abound:
Delroy Lewis was a member of a biker club one time called pages, all black guys, least fifty of ’emit black leather, the ace of spades painted on their yellow helmets…Delroy rode with the gang four times, got filthy dirty riding ass-end of the pack and quit the Spades.
He owned a cocktail lounge on New Center Road called the Cooz Club that featured chicks writhing bare naked on a pole that rose from a narrows strip of stage back of the bar. They’d get up there in their heels, eyes dreamy, out of focus and the guys at the bar would bet on which chick would fall off, side bets on hitting the bartender or not. He made drinks looking over his shoulder. Once Delroy had the idea, he turned the bare naked ladies into bank robbin’ chicks and was doing just fine til…
No surprise, Delroy does not come to a good end but the how of it amuses and entertains.
Elmore Leonard’s work, as mentioned above, has been adapted to a fair number of movies but in Justified he has found a simpatico group of filmmakers (Raylan is dedicated to producer Graham Yost and actor Tim Oliphant) and stands with Steve Soderbergh’s Out of Sight as exemplars of fine American cinema narratives.
Currently reading Raylan by Elmore Leonard (William Morrow)