Saturday, September 23, 2017

Raylan (Book 3) by Elmore Leonard ***

Raylan Givens is a US Marshall assigned to northern Kentucky. The novel reads like three novellas stitched together. The first is about Layla, a transplant nurse who steals kidneys, followed by Carol Conlan, a tough, coal-company negotiator who includes murder as one of her tactics, and finally, Jackie Nevada, a college student and professional poker player. There is also Delroy who recruits strippers to rob banks for him. Everyone is armed and shoots to kill.

Raylan is a caricature, a movie role, and the crimes are novel. Many of Elmore Leonard books became books, and I get the impression that this might be better on the screen than on the page. (Raylan was the protagonist of a TV series.) The body count is too-many-to-count, but the narrative is more comedy than drama because people die quickly with a minimum of pain and suffering—or description.

An interesting dialogue between Carol Conlan, Ivy League lawyer, and Boyd, dim-witted local who is her gofer and stooge…
What he said was, “You know you ended a sentence with a preposition? You said, ‘She’s here in a nursing home we’re paying for’”
“Caught being ungrammatical.” Carol staring at his serious face. “How should I have said it?”
“She’s here in a nursing home,” Boyd said, “for which we’re paying the costs.”
Aside from the grammar rule being “something up which with I will not put,” this is out of character for Boyd who is otherwise a sincere simpleton, and the book which is mostly dialect, reminiscent of Mark Twain.

Two trivial things bothered me. The first was my problem. Each time I see UK, I think United Kingdom, aka England, but in this context, it refers to University of Kentucky. The book ended before I acclimated to this ambiguity. The other I only mention because this is a HarperCollins book: “a phone number in black marker witten on the palm, before it was smudged with blood.” WITTEN?

Raylon is cool under fire and never without a clever reply in backwoods Kentucky patois. Anyone interested in mayhem and murder will enjoy this collection of stories.