Butler County Times Gazette
by Garon Cockrell
#Trehern Reads: #Raylan by Elmore Leonard
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Dec. 6, 2013 5:15 p.m.

Let's read something that doesn't have dudes in spandex.
When Justified premiered on the air back in 2010, I became a pretty big fan.  It has all the western, cop drama and action/adventure that Trehern thinks watchable in any medium.  The main character of the television series, Raylan Givens, first appeared in a few novels, but it was the short story "Fire in the Hole" that FX used to jump-start their new drama.  Elmore Leonard, Raylan's literary creator, loved the show so much he penned a new novel in 2012: Raylan!

The story starts with some quasi-familiar characters, like Coover and Dickie.  Except in the book, they're Coover and Dickie Crowe; in the television show, they're Dickie and Coover Bennett.  We'll talk about that in a second...  Anyway, the novel is creatively broken up to tell multiple stories: Coover and Dickie's dirty dealings in the organ black market, Boyd Crowder helping out coal company executive Carol Conlan (hot.), and a sweet poker narrative with college-chick Jackie Nevada with some female-led bank robberies thrown in there somewhere.  I'm telling you, this is a roller coaster of a read!

Raylan the character is a little difficult to get used to initially, especially if you're coming from the TV show.  However, you eventually get your "book legs" and if you can just focus Timothy Olyphant into the words of the story, you'll be riding next to that badass Kentucky marshal in no time.  Raylan has a cool and fast attitude about him; we rarely see him struggle with the actions he follows through on as a US marshal.  He's got the quickest trigger in Harlan County, and more often than not that gets him in trouble.  The dialogue Raylan delivers always feels like syrup, though, counteracting the quick reflexes.  He rarely shares his inner thoughts, and when he does they're simplistic and to the point.  Even shooting a woman had him questioning his performance ever so briefly, but he moves on quite effortlessly...

"You don't think of your manners and let the woman go first...
not when she's pointing a gun at you." - Art Mullen   
Like I mention above, the similarities between the book and the television series is interesting.  Initially I thought, "HEY! Old man Elmore!!  You're stealing ideas from the show!!!!"  But after some research, I found that the way the show is written (Elmore was involved before his death in 2013) is quite interesting.  The writers create a "pool" of ideas, and when it comes time to write an episode, they go into the pool and fish out some of the random storylines they've placed there.  With the book, Raylan, Elmore Leonard simply went to that same pool and put his own spin on the ideas.  So similarities will pop up once and a while, and it's kind of cool; especially if you love the second season.  Just think of the book universe and the TV universe as having slightly different outcomes...

All in all, let me conclude by recommending this title to fans of Justified, fans of fiction and fans of smoking-gun suspense, because Raylan has got almost everything!  Check your local bookstores OR your nearby libraries!!

By final rating of Raylan by Elmore Leonard is...
9 out of 10 Crowe Brothers!!




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