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Reviewed by Claudia Robinson

“Swung the Glock down to aim eye-level at him and Raylan raised the Sig past his hip and shot her dead center, inches below the heart, the round punching her off her feet to go down grabbing at the bedspread. Raylan circled in his cowboy boots, picking up his suitcoat, put it on and took it off to stand in front of her naked. He stood looking down at her surprised expression her eyes not yet losing focus, turning to glass. Layla said, “I can’t believe you shot me.” Raylan said, “I can’t either.” – Raylan, Elmore Leonard

US Marshal, Raylan Givens, of Harlan County, KY, has a small problem. Two local brothers, known best for the pot adventures and drug dealings, have decided that the real money lays in selling body parts, BACK to their desperate owners. Determined to find out who is behind the boys, knowing their combined intelligence alone, could not conceive of, or carry out, such a delicate venture without bumbling it, Raylan finds himself a potential victim, and in a bit of a pickle, when the trail he follows, leads him to the right door, or bathtub, in this case.

On top of dealing with a pair of dumbass delinquents and their equally vapid family members, Raylan has been hired to protect a mining company’s bigwig, who is in town attempting to convince the locals, including their soot soiled lungs and gasping for last breath spouses, fathers, brothers, sisters, that the company has the town’s best interest at heart. Conflicted, Raylan tries to maintain a sense of moral, while not combining his own opinions with the business of making sure Carol Conlan isn’t killed on his watch.

Cowboy hat and boot wearing Raylan has swag. Impossible to ruffle, quick to pull the trigger, and easy on the eyes, Raylan’s wit, and drawled monotone delivery of quote worthy diatribe, easily steals the show, and could alone, hold any reader’s interest, but Leonard tosses in a plethora of memorable characters, each more outrageous, complex and quirky than the one before. It’s obvious Leonard is a pro; he delivers a book that reads like a movie, each character fleshed out, psychologically (mentally, literally, at times) and physically, to perfection, ingratiating the readers to crook and lawman, alike, gifting readers with visual stimuli, not a talent many writers have mastered.

Funny, intelligent, outrageous and at times, even enlightening, Leonard’s writing style paints a picture of a world where rules are meant to be broken, and enforced, alternately, by bad and good, if it means getting the job done in the end. Fast paced, meaty, and action packed, even readers who haven’t jumped on the Justified TV show bandwagon, will get a feel for, and not soon forget, the bad ass Cowboy vigilante Deputy, Raylan Givens.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Claudia lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband and two children.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.