Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review: Raylan by Elmore Leonard


Raylan is the protagonist of the TV series Justified, and a man we’ve met more than once before in Elmore Leonard’s stories.
     In this book, that kind of makes us think that it’s not novel but rather a collection of interconnected stories, we follow Raylan as he’s called to investigate three different cases. The first one has to do with the removal of the kidneys of a known criminal and then the offer from the perps to sell them back to him; the second concerns the murder of an ex-miner, who suffered a lot during his stay with the company and afterwards as well; and finally the third follows the footsteps of a rather brilliant college student, who after losing a lot of money playing cards decides to hit the road and head to Las Vegas, looking for the big score.
     As one would expect from a Leonard book its strongest points are the characters and the dialogues. Be Cool; that seems to be Raylan’s mantra, and cool he is. He is a Marshall, an enforcer of the law, who has his own individual sense of justice and who follows his own rules; someone who doesn’t seem to care how justice is done, as long as it is done. So, when he investigates the kidneys case the only thing he’s interested in is solving it and arresting the perps, he doesn’t care even a little bit, that the men in question are the sons of one of the biggest drug lords. When he tries to prove that the death of the ex-miner did not occur as an act of self-defense, but rather that it was a cold-blooded murder, he does not hesitate to clash head to head with his temporary employer, a sexy yet ruthless woman, and when the final solution comes about, though highly unorthodox, doesn’t make him break a sweat. And when he accidentally bumps into the runaway girl, instead of arresting her on the spot he gives her a chance to make things right. In Raylan’s world the end justifies the means. And in his world, one way or the other, justice is always served.
     Raylan however is not the only unique, in his ways, hero in this novel. The baddies are just as interesting as him, or even more so. We have old man Crowe, who no matter what has his own set of rules; Rita, a kind of housekeeper for the man and his occasional lover, and the only person he can totally trust along with, Raylan; and then comes an adventuress, a woman with a heart of ice: “This was a cool woman with evil ways. The best kind.” And finally we have someone who betrayed all her beliefs, if she had any, who chose to forget her past and do everything and anything she possibly could to secure herself an unknown yet brilliant future; one who believed that she could and would have all there was to have, and couldn’t take no as an answer; a victim of her own making.
     Raylan’s adventures offer the reader something similar to a roller coaster ride; they are cool and they are exciting, without seemingly trying to be so.
     Highly recommended to all the fans of the good writer, but also to every single soul out there that enjoys a good old crime novel. I’d say that Raylan is here to stay.

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