Friday, January 20, 2012


Okay, some of you are fans of one of my guilty pleasures, Justified. You know who United States Marshal Raylan Givens is. And if you are a mystery reader, you might know that the guy who came up with the character upon which the TV series is based is Elmore "Dutch" Leonard. 

Leonard has been writing forever, has a slew of books, more than a couple of which have been made into movies. I'll get back to that in a minute. 

Nice guy. I caught him in a gun mistake once, or so I thought. One of his characters was waving around a .38 auto pistol and I sent him a note explaining that probably wasn't the case. As it turned out, he knew that. He'd written ".380" in his manuscript, and a helpful copy editor assumed he had mistakenly added that "O" at the end and fixed it for him.

This is why you read your galleys when they send them to you.

Um. Anyway, Leonard has written a new novel starring Raylan. If you've followed the series on the tube, the book will be a disconnect–he has a story that the series used, sort of, but told slightly differently, and with not-quite-the-same characters acting in it. Kind of like an alternate universe. Boyd Crowder is in it, but not as much fun as he is in Justified. The owner of the store down in the holler who sells 'shine and runs the marijuana biz locally is a man, and not a woman, and the two idiot sons aren't quite the same in the book as in the series. The coal miner VP woman is there, but not the same. It will be familiar, but it doesn't go where you think it will if you've seen the televised version.

Still, it's a fun read, Leonard is a master, and I had a fine old time with it.

My favorite of the diamonds strewn about is a little bit of business that won't mean anything to anybody not a Leonard fan. Here's the set-up for a short exchange that takes place early in  Chapter 8:

Long ago, Leonard wrote a novel, Valdez is Coming. The book was made into a movie starring Burt Lancaster, as a Mexican-American sheriff who tracks down and picks off bad guys who have murdered somebody and kidnapped a woman. At one point, he captures one of the villains, but turns him loose with a message for the leader of the bad guys: "Tell them, Valdez is coming."

In the novel, Raylan is talking to Loretta, a girl's whose father has been shot. She's about twelve or so:

"Before they showed," Loretta said, "Bob phoned and said to tell my dad, 'Valdez is comin.' You ever hear of anything like that?"

"I might've," Raylan said ..."

I fell out laughing when I read that. I expect Leonard's other hardcore fans will, too. 

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