Raylan: A Novel

by Elmore Leonard

Hardcover, 2012

Call number




William Morrow (2012), Edition: First Edition, 272 pages


When Federal Marshall Raylan Givens squares off against a known offender, he will warn the man, "If I have to pull my gun I'll shoot to kill." Except this time he finds the offender naked in a bathtub, doped up and missing his kidneys. Raylan knows there's big money in body parts, but by the time he finds out who is making the cuts, he is lying naked in a bathtub himself, Layla, the cool transplant nurse, about to go for his kidneys. It turns out all the bad guys Raylan is after are girls this time: the nurse who collects kidneys and sells them for ten grand apiece. Carol Conlan, the mine company executive who comes to Harlan County to sell mountaintop removal, shoots a miner who wastes her time, then meets the miner's widow in a scene you won't forget. The third girl's only offense is missing a court date. Jackie Nevada plays high-stakes poker for a living and is last seen in the shower with Raylan.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ursula
I am a huge fan of the TV show Justified, and I've never before read any of Elmore Leonard's stories involving Raylan Givens. So I knew it would be a little difficult to avoid picturing the actors from the show as I listened to this. As it turns out, some of the plot points are the same as things that happen in the show, although there are very different outcomes in the book.

Elmore Leonard is justly famous for his handling of dialogue and his colorful characters. The characters came through pretty well here, although for me, the dialogue suffered in the audio version. Typical of Leonard, there were criss-crossing plots and people all shades of moral grey. Not nearly as much fun as Out of Sight or probably any of a number of other Leonard books. I think I'll probably go back to Raylan's beginnings and see if those are better, before the cross-pollination of the TV show happened. (This was actually written after the show started, so it puts this one in a sort of strange Inception-esque limbo of book-inspired-by-tv-show-inspired-by-book.)
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LibraryThing member caitemaire
Elmore Leonard is another one of those authors I have heard of, again and again, and never read. And since he has written a very large number of books, that is saying something. But it was a TV series that finally tipped the balance. The series is Justified, a series which has just started it's second season on FX and it is based on Leonard's US Marshall Raylan Givens, who has appeared previously in the novels Pronto and Riding the Rap and a short story, "Fire in the Hole".
And now, maybe riding the popularity of the show we have Mr. Givens back again, in Raylan.

I hesitate to call this a novel, because, although they are tied together, this is really more of a series of several short stories. First, we have a tale about a drug bust that turns into the classic urban myth, a man who wakes up in a bathtub to find his kidney stolen. Except in this case it is both his kidneys and they are being held hostage for a payment of $100,000. After Givens solves that one, we move on to another story, this of an evil, nasty piece of work woman who is the representative of the coal company that is strip mining the area mountains...and let's just say that she is willing to go the extra mile to get her way. It may appear that her story is left hanging as we move on to the next, but worry not. It will be resolved and in an amusing, if deadly, way. And finally, we have the story of Jackie Nevada, a college student and fantastic poker player, who skips out of jail, becoming Givens' professional as well as personal subject of interest.

I am a bit torn about this book. The stories are interesting and the book is a fast, easy read, full of great characters, not the least of which is Raylan Givens himself. The dialogue is fantastic, obviously one of Leonard's strengths. And I am sure fans of the previous books will enjoy this book. But I am not sure it is the place to start and from what I understand, viewers of the series who come to this book may be a little confused, because while some of the same folks and settings appear, there are a great, great many changes.
Still Raylan is a very good character, enough to carry this book with as much style as he wears his trademark hat and it was a fun read.
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LibraryThing member emsundotorg
Raylan Givens is a U.S. Marshall with a gun and an attitude, and he isn’t afraid to use either. Born in coal-country Kentucky, he spent some time in Florida with the Marshals until he shot a man to his boss’s displeasure. Shuttled back to his roots, Raylan gripes about serving the region he’s assigned, yet still gets the job done. Raylan reacts to several different crimes over the length of this novel, interacting with a kidney-stealing transplant nurse, a dope-running hick master mind, a coal company woman, some female bank robbers, and a girl master poker player.

While the premise of the novel seemed very engaging, it actually fell a little short. This is primarily because the novel reads more like a collection of short stories strung together with truncated transitions. Instead of one main story arc, there are at least three and they don’t really weave together in the end. It’s also incredibly dialogue-heavy and reminiscent of a novelized screen play instead of a rich and fully fleshed out world. This led to a lack of connection with the main character, Raylan.

The novel also has a cast of far out characters (seriously – a transplant nurse who steals kidneys and leaves her victims in bathtubs full of ice). Givens has many witty interactions with them which helps speed up the pace of the book, but it did take extra time to navigate the heavily Kentucky-accented dialogue throughout the book. Added to that, the relationships that Givens has with the other characters just weren’t believable.

The novel is, however, entertaining in a very light read-it-and-leave-it fashion and well-written overall. I’m sure someone who has seen the TV series Justified, which the novel’s main character is in, would be more interested in Raylan.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Raylan free through the TLC Book Tours review program. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. The opinions I have expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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LibraryThing member Doondeck
Very typical Leonard work. Interesting to see how the story lines intersect and in many ways differ between this book and the TV series Jusified.
LibraryThing member Twink
Fans of Elmore Leonard will be familiar with Raylan Givens, the US Marshall who was featured in Leonard's previous books Pronto and Riding the Rap. At eighty six years old, Elmore Leonard shows no signs of slowing down. He's just released his latest book - Raylan. Raylan is also the star of the hit television series Justified. (I'm hooked on the show and Timothy Olyphant)

Harlan County, Kentucky is hurting from the closure of coal mines. Entreprenurial folk have now made marijanua the county's number one cash crop. Raylan is familiar with most of the players, having grown up in Harlan County. But two enterprising souls have discovered yet another lucrative sideline - body parts, mostly kidneys. How to stop this dogged US Marshall that's hot on their trail? Well, he does have two perfectly good kidneys...And that's just one of the three storylines Leonard has penned for Raylan. Although they were loosely connected, each felt like a separate novella.

Now, Raylan released after the mid season break of Season Two of Justified. I found some of story lines and characters from television repeated in the book, albeit with a few changes. Or did the television series borrow heavily from the book? So, part of the storyline was not new, but parts of it were. No matter, fans will still be captured.

The audio version of Raylan features Brian D'Arcy James as the reader. As a fan of Justified, I have come to associated certain actors and voices with the characters. I was concerned that I wouldn't identify with new voices. But that concern was unfounded. James employed a great accent for each of the characters, almost matching those I knew. His tones and inflections immediately brought Harlan County to life. Leonard's strength is in his dialogue and James did it justice.

Raylan is a walk tall, talk soft, draw your gun and use it kind of lawman. Fans of Jack Reacher and Joe Pike would enjoy the character of Raylan Givens. A gritty, down and dirty tale filled with Leonard's trademark whip smart dialogue.
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LibraryThing member LisaLynne
I think this is the first time that reading a book has made me want to watch a tv show.

I’ve read books and wanted to see them made into movies, but I don’t normally watch a lot of television. Still, I might have to make an exception for Justified, the show based around Raylan Givens. Givens appears in Riding the Rap, Pronto and Raylan.

Raylan Givens is a former coal miner, now a U.S. Marshal. You get the distinct impression that Givens is not quickly climbing the career ladder at the Marshal service — he seems a bit too out-spoken and he has a tendency to go off in his own direction, rather than following directions he’s been given. He gets good results, especially since he’s assigned to his old stomping grounds:

“The troopers got a kick out of this marshal, at one time a coal miner from Harlan County but sounded like a lawman, his attitude about his job. This morning, they watched him enter a fugitive felon’s motel room without drawing his gun.”

This book covers a lot of ground. There are marijuana fields, illegal organ sales (and we are not talking about Wurlitzer’s), high stakes poker games, bank robbery and murder. The smaller stories flow naturally, one into the other, so the book seemed to slide right over what seemed like stopping points. I wasn’t sure where it was all going to end up, and Raylan followed some twisted paths to get there, but it was an interesting trip.

In the early chapters, I found the language a little choppy and difficult to follow — it seemed like the sentences broke off in mid thought and picked up in strange places. It took a little while to get used to it.

“The DEA fella comes down here in his dress shoes and pays for product before he’s given any. Anxious, in a hurry to get her done. Like cuttin’ a fart he believes is gas and messes himself. I’m to take your word my tads cheated this man?”

I am definitely planning to check out the earlier Raylan Givens novels, and if I can find the first season of Justified streaming somewhere, I want to give that a shot, too. Givens is a great character, but there are plenty of other interesting and oddball residents of Harlan County. They should make for a lot of good reading.
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LibraryThing member Mathenam
I read this book because I am a HUGE fan of the television show, Justified, and I love the character, Raylan Givens. This book was okay, and I could almost see the characters in my head as I was reading. The multiple storylines work well for the tv show, but seemed disjointed in print form. I enjoyed this book, and I think most fans of the show would enjoy it. But, it isn't one of my faves.… (more)
LibraryThing member gregoryahillsr
I did not like this book. The kidney harvesters would have been great if Elmore could have just stayed with this plot. He jumps around to the shooting of an ex employee at a coal mine and some chick who is possibly robbing banks. I have read several of Leonard's earlier books, but this is one of the worse books I've read in a long time.… (more)
LibraryThing member gincam
I have a "Justified" obsession. From the very first glimpse of the original TV promos for the FX TV series, "Justified", I was a goner. When I finally got to actually watch the show--have mercy!!! Timothy Olyphant fits the character of Raylan Givens the way that Raylan’s Stetson fits his head! Perfectly! I must say that Timothy looks mighty fine in that hat, and he wears the hat, it doesn’t wear him. “Justified” is just about perfect in every way–an outstanding cast and astounding writing and overall production values. Dark, gritty, and impossible to look away from! Raylan is a dedicated lawman, a deadly crack shot, and his own worst enemy. Having said all that, I must also say that before I finished the first page of "Raylan", by Elmore Leonard, I realized that I was going to have to separate my enjoyment of the series from the very different experience of reading the book. Elmore Leonard is a highly esteemed crime writer who blends quirky characters and bizarre humor with tightly-written suspense story lines. The character of Raylan Givens was first introduced in "Fire in the Hole", which was followed by "Pronto" and "Riding the Rap". Those three books have been on my wish list for some time, and I jumped (jumped really high and hurt myself) at the chance to read and review "Raylan". The book's title lead me to believe that the focus would be more in-depth on the character of Raylan. While there where glimpses of the wry wit, savvy lawman instincts, and self-troublemaking elements that are very much a part of the character, there just isn't enough Raylan in "Raylan". However, there is a uniquely told twisted tale with enough turns to make you feel like you are riding on the back roads of a Kentucky hollow. Watch out for those "pot"-holes! Also, don't mess with Granny! For me one of the most praise-worthy aspects of Elmore Leonard's writing is that anyone can be bodaciously bad. Age and gender don't matter--anyone can be "bad to the bone". Whoo hoo! What a hoot! No wonder I'm obsessed. Thank you, Mr. Leonard!

Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine
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LibraryThing member andy475uk
Fresh from the TV series "Justified" and the previous Elmore Leonard books "Riding The Rap" and "Pronto", Raylan features US Marshall Raylan Givens. Like "Road Dogs" before it and unlike "Djibouti", this is prime Elmore Leonard with plenty of doubt and triple crosses and a cast of intertwined characters as Raylan negotiates three distinct cases. Really enjoyable.… (more)
LibraryThing member Laurenbdavis
As a crime writer, Elmore Leonard is certainly a step above the average. He is known for his quirky characters, a razor-sharp style and terse, funny dialogue. And that's all here. It's a highly stylized piece that could only be written by Leonard. So that, as far as it goes, is all great. The problem I had with the book is that I found Raylan unconvincing. I don't know what his motivations are for anything, and although there were hints about deeper relationships, they were not on the page. Is this book the middle part of a series? Perhaps. If so, I expect it may suffer as a stand alone. If not, it has bigger problems. This seems like a fair beginning for a much larger work -- a series of vignettes desired to inspire the actual novel.

I have watched, with pleasure, the television series inspired by this book, and can only assume the writers of that work either new far more than I, as a reader, am being told, or else they made up what isn't between the covers of the novel.
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LibraryThing member JJbooklvr
I am a big fan of the tv show Justified so when I saw this coming out I had to read it. Overall, I did enjoy it although it was a bit disjointed.
LibraryThing member hchannell
I am a huge fan of the Justified tv series but I found this book lacking. It was hard to get into. The plot was all over the place. I'll continue watching the series but doubt I will read any more of the books.
LibraryThing member dickmanikowski
Damn, I love Elmore Leonard. The older he gets, the better he writes. Or maybe it's the older I get.
LibraryThing member SteveAldous
Reads like three interlinked episodes of the Justified TV series - in fact a number of elements were used in the series. Leonard gives us an entertaining cross-linked trio of stories with sparky dialogue and a shoot 'em up modern western backdrop, but little in terms of depth. The stories focus on various female villains each with a criminal project with little prospect of long-term success. They move along quickly, but by the end you feel there could have been more in the way of focus.… (more)
LibraryThing member akmargie
Written exactly like an episode of Justified but not like Justified. Have a feeling Elmore is trying to cash in and why shouldn't he? The story was fun and the narrator did a great job with different characters and his Raylan was spot on. Quick, fun listen if you're a fan of Elmore or the show.
LibraryThing member ecw0647
Fans of the TV Series “Justified” (I am) will recognize all of the plots in this set of short stories tied together only by Raylan’s presence: the nurse selling kidneys, the coal mining VP trying to get contracts signed, etc. (He barely figures in the story about the poker-playing girl.) I regret Leonard won’t be able to write any more, but regretfully this is not one of his better works. Ironically, the TV series holds together better as a novel, especially in its portrayal of the coal-mining areas of Kentucky. This book might have been marketed as a series of short stories.

I don’t know, but have a suspicion that this book was written after, or perhaps simultaneously, with the scripts for the TV series 2nd season as a way to capitalize on the fame of the TV series. No matter, it’s a wonderful modern-day western replete with bad guys and quick-draws. In real life, Raylan would have drowned in paperwork writing up his extravagant use of bullets.
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LibraryThing member MashaK99
Just "OK." The show is better. I didn't care for the way some of the characters are in the book; I prefer the show version. On it's own, it's entertaining enough, although too episodic for my taste. It all "sort of" comes together, but in a forced way. If you're a fan of the show and need to spend more time with Raylan and Co. during the hiatus, give this a try, just don't expect too much.… (more)
LibraryThing member clfisha
Raylan Given's is (either drop ‘s or is?) a level headed US Marshall, with a dead pan humour and a cool, calm style but is never shy about going for his gun. something that has got him into trouble and now he is back to his old hunting ground, shifted out of Florida for not playing nice and back amongst the coal dust of Kentucky.

It’s a bit of a chaotic, episodic book that seems to feature multi crimes, which are only vaguely linked. We kick off with a kidney harvesting racket, move over into evil corporate shenanigans with the powerful Coal company and sidestep into
Tracking a young runaway & poker fiend. The book is great at evoking the Southern USA setting, some great characters carrying on that cool, wry dialogue Leonard is good at. Raylan is a lot of fun but it's too uneven to be really satisfying.

Of course knowing it's a tie-in to the TV might explain things and be warned it's also a part of a series where Raylan plays a minor role (I think I haven’t read them).

Recommended for fans only, its not a bad book but there are better places to start.
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LibraryThing member JBreedlove
Very good and easy read. A couple of time he went off track with the cross dressing and the movie of Delroy but I enjoyed the similarity to some Hustified episodes. It works with the shows characters.
LibraryThing member ptdilloway
It would probably help if you'd read the previous books or watched the TV series Justified since there's no attempt to introduce any new readers to the characters. No real characterization or much narration. Just nonstop talking. There are three loosely connected stories, none of which really end very satisfactorily.
LibraryThing member Jonathan_Miles
Brings back Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, the character from Leonard's novella "Fire in the Hole", which spawned the hit TV series "Justified." This time around, Raylan squares off against a gang of vicious organ harvesters. This leads him further into bodyguarding for a corrupt coal-company lawyer trying to acquire land for the mining company she represents in Raylan's hometown, the shooting of an irate, out-of-work miner by Raylan's old acquaintance Boyd Crowder, who now works for the coal company, and the trail of a Butler University coed who may or may not be robbing banks to support her poker-playing habits. These stories overlap and converge to bring the book to a slam-bang finish, and as always Raylan Givens is one of Elmore Leonard's coolest characters. I definitely recommend this book, although for mature readers, because, as in all of Elmore Leonard's novels, there is adult language and violence, as well as sexual content. Leonard's ear for dialogue is remarkable, and the characters almost seem to come off the page.… (more)
LibraryThing member nikon
This one's great for dialogue but lacks descriptive foundations and also a bit too corny here and there and yet... and yet I still like his style!
LibraryThing member Daftboy1
Raylan Givens is a US Federal Marshal
This book sees him dealing with 3 different criminals all women.
First is the Nurse who steals kidneys
Second the Evil woman who works for the Coal mine company
Thirdly the young woman who is on the run from the law and is also a very good Poker player.

I struggled with this book found the language confusing, not for me.
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LibraryThing member Gregorio_Roth
Fun read, full of amazing characters... Leonard is just plain down right adult amusement.




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