Raylan (Raylan Givens Series #3)

Raylan (Raylan Givens Series #3)

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by Elmore Leonard

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The revered New York Times bestselling author, recognized as “America’s greatest crime writer” (Newsweek), brings back U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, the mesmerizing hero of Pronto, Riding the Rap, and the hit FX series Justified.

With the closing of the Harlan County, Kentucky, coal mines, marijuana has become

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The revered New York Times bestselling author, recognized as “America’s greatest crime writer” (Newsweek), brings back U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, the mesmerizing hero of Pronto, Riding the Rap, and the hit FX series Justified.

With the closing of the Harlan County, Kentucky, coal mines, marijuana has become the biggest cash crop in the state. A hundred pounds of it can gross $300,000, but that’s chump change compared to the quarter million a human body can get you—especially when it’s sold off piece by piece.

So when Dickie and Coover Crowe, dope-dealing brothers known for sampling their own supply, decide to branch out into the body business, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens to stop them. But Raylan isn’t your average marshal; he’s the laconic, Stetson-wearing, fast-drawing lawman who juggles dozens of cases at a time and always shoots to kill. But by the time Raylan finds out who’s making the cuts, he’s lying naked in a bathtub, with Layla, the cool transplant nurse, about to go for his kidneys.

The bad guys are mostly gals this time around: Layla, the nurse who collects kidneys and sells them for ten grand a piece; Carol Conlan, a hard-charging coal-mine executive not above ordering a cohort to shoot point-blank a man who’s standing in her way; and Jackie Nevada, a beautiful sometime college student who can outplay anyone at the poker table and who suddenly finds herself being tracked by a handsome U.S. marshal.

Dark and droll, Raylan is pure Elmore Leonard—a page-turner filled with the sparkling dialogue and sly suspense that are the hallmarks of this modern master.

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Editorial Reviews

There's a streak of perversity in Elmore Leonard, contemporary American fiction's master of dialogue, choosing the laconic cowboy type as a hero for his crime fiction. True, Leonard started out writing westerns, but the characters who populate his crime stories are talkers, some profane, some funny, some sarcastic, many all at once. But they are talkers.

Raylan Givens, the U.S. marshal who first appeared in Leonard's short story "Fire in the Hole" and has since become the hero of the FX series Justified, occupies the center of Leonard's Raylan, essentially a couple of long short stories woven loosely into a novel. Leonard's Raylan is a bit more upfront about his appetites than he is in Timothy Olyphant's wittily underplayed portrayal of the character in the series. He's still no chatterbox, though.

Both Raylan and Justified are contemporary westerns, moving the conventions of horse opera to present-day Kentucky. Oxycontin ("hillbilly heroin," as it's called in one episode) has supplemented moonshine, but much else is still the same. Raylan is the upright, no-nonsense lawman, and the villains he faces (many of them) are the type of inbred bad news who caused problems for decent, law-abiding folks in pictures like My Darling Clementine, Man of the West, and Ride the High Country. Raylan, like every great western hero, is burdened by his own reputation, which in his case stems from the time he gave a Miami drug kingpin twenty-four hours to get out of town (and blew the bastard away when he didn't). That gets Raylan reassigned to the hometown he wanted to escape, back in the same territory with his scheming con man daddy, his ex-wife, and his high school crush, who's just taken permanent revenge on her abusive husband.

Leonard's novels have inspired some fine adaptations, both in movies (Out of Sight, Jackie Brown, the relatively unseen Killshot) and on TV (the late, lamented Karen Cisco). Justified may be the best anyone has done at capturing the novelist's mordant, flippant tone. The various brands of mayhem that have turned up on the show are greeted by victims and lawmen alike with a "Well, whadd're you gonna do?" shrug. As Raylan, Olyphant is what you might have seen if the young Gary Cooper had been a put-on artist. The marshal is a hot pistol who's had to learn to play it cool. His ten-gallon hat might be the cork that keeps his inner volcano from blowing. Much of the time Olyphant, who moves through each episode in lean, clean strides, seems to be privately amused by the corruption of the fools who mess with him.

As a novel, Raylan is a casual endeavor, Leonard having fun with a character who's gained a measure of popularity. It's also a pisser. Leonard has come up with some doozies for the plot: the dimwit sons of a backwoods pot grower joining in a scheme to swipe kidneys and then ransom them back for replacement in the victims' bodies; a female coal company exec who, annoyed with a local's complaints about the pollution caused by strip mining, picks up a rifle and shoots the old man. The violence here has the swift kick of a good, mean joke. It makes you wince and grin at the same time.

Raylan's a straight arrow, but he's not a stick-in-the-mud. He's not too upright to consider a dalliance with the transplant nurse who's masterminding the kidney-swiping scheme or that coal company exec, who hires him as her bodyguard. (His common sense wins out — by a hair — over his libido.) The compressed form of the stories is perfect for a writer who long ago learned to pare away every extraneous word.

There's another reason Leonard's creation and the TV show it spawned have clicked. A hero who sees the irony in being the tall, true man of the law — and is anyway — may be the only kind of traditional hero we can believe in now. In recent years, "cowboy" has come to be an epithet denoting ill-advised American military adventuring. But what's denigrated as cowboy behavior is almost always more appropriate to the recklessness of the outlaw that the westerner faces. Raylan keeps his own counsel, considers the consequences before he acts, tells those who oppose him what the consequences are, uses violence when it's called for but never revels in it and would just as soon avoid it. Among the other pleasures Leonard and his Kentucky lawman provide, they've restored the cowboy's good name.

Charles Taylor has written for numerous publications, includingSalon, The Boston Phoenix, and The New York Times Book Review.

Reviewer: Charles Taylor

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Raylan Givens Series, #3
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt


A Novel
By Elmore Leonard

William Morrow

Copyright © 2012 Elmore Leonard
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780062119469

Chapter One

Chapter One
Raylan Givens was holding a federal warrant to serve on a man in the marijuana
trade known as Angel Arenas, forty-seven, born in the U.S. but 100 percent
of him Hispanic.
"I met him," Raylan said, "the time I was on court duty
in Miami and he was up for selling khat. That Arab plant you
chew on and get high."
"Just medium high," Rachel Brooks said, in the front seat
of the SUV, Raylan driving, early morning sun showing behind
them. "Khat's just catchin on, grown in California, big in San Diego
among real Africans."
"You buy any, you want to know it was picked that morning," Raylan said.
"It gives you a high for the day and that's it."
"I have some friends," Rachel said, "like to chew it now and
then. They never get silly, have fun with it. They just seem to
mellow out."
"Get dreamy," Raylan said.
"What'd Angel go down for?"
"Thirty- six months out of forty and went back to selling
weed. Violated his parole. He was supposed to have made a deal
through that Rastafarian ran the Church?"
"Temple of the Cool and Beautiful J.C.," Rachel said.
"Israel Fendi, with the dreads, Ethiopian by way of Jamaica. Was
he in the deal?"
"Never went near it. But somebody put the stuff on Angel, some doper looking
for a plea deal. Swears Angel was taking delivery last night.
I doubt we walk in and find Angel sitting on it."
From the backseat they heard Tim Gutterson say, "He's looking
at two hundred and forty months this time." Tim going
through a file folder of Angel Arenas photos came to a mug shot.
"Look at that grin. Nothing about him armed and dangerous."
"He never packs," Raylan said, "that I know of. Or has gun thugs hanging around."
The SUV was traveling through a bottom section of East
Kentucky, creeping along behind the state troopers' radio cars,
following a lake that looked more like a river looping around on
its way down past the Tennessee line. A few minutes shy of 6:00
a.m. they pulled up to the Cumberland Inn.
The state troopers, four of them, watched Raylan and his crew slip on Kevlar vests,
which they wore underneath their U.S. marshal jackets,
and watched them check their sidearms.
Raylan told the officers he didn't expect Angel would resist, but
you never knew for sure.
He said, "You hear gunfire come running, all right?"
One of the troopers said, "You want, we'll bust in the door
for you."
"You're dying to," Raylan said. "I thought I'd stop by the
desk and get a key."
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.
There wasn't a sound but the hum of air conditioning. Sunlight
from the windows lay on the king size bed, unmade but
thrown together, the spread pulled up over bedding and pillows.
Raylan turned to Rachel and nodded to the bed. Now he stepped
over to the bathroom door, not closed all the way, listened and
then shoved it open.
Angel Arenas's head rested against the curved end of the
bathtub, his hair floating in water that came past his chin, his
eyes closed, his body stretched out naked in a tub filled close to
the brim with bits of ice in water turning pink.
Raylan said, "Angel . . . ?" Got no response and kneeled at
the tub to feel Angel's throat for a pulse. "He's freezing to death
but still breathing."
Behind him he heard Rachel say, "Raylan, the bed's full of
blood. Like he was killing chickens in there." And heard her say,
"Oh my God," sucking in her breath as she saw Angel.
Raylan turned the knob to let the water run out, lowering
it around Angel, his belly becoming an island in the tub of ice
water, blood showing in two places on the island.
"He had something done to him," Raylan said. "He's got
like staples closing up what look like wounds. Or was he
operated on?"
"Somebody shot him," Tim said.
"I don't think so," Raylan said, staring at the two incisions
stapled closed.
Rachel said, "That's how they did my mother last year,
at UK Medical. Made one entry below the ribs and the other
under her belly button. I asked her why they did it there 'stead of
around through her back."
Tim said, "You gonna tell us what the operation was?"
"They took out her kidneys," Rachel said. "Both of 'em, and
she got an almost new pair the same day, from a child who'd
They wrapped Angel in a blanket, carried him into the bedroom
and laid him on the spread, the man shuddering, trying to
breathe. His eyes closed he said to Raylan staring at him, "What
happen to me?"
"You're here making a deal?"
Angel hesitated. "Two guys I know, growers. We have a
drink— "
"And you end up in the tub," Raylan said. "How much you
pay them?"
"Is none of your business."
"They left the weed?"
"What you see," Angel said.
"There isn't any here."
Angel's eyes came open. "I bought a hundred pounds,
twenty-two thousand dollar. I saw it, I tried some."
"You got taken," Raylan said. "They put you out and left
with the swag and the weed."
Now his eyes closed and he said, "Man, I'm in pain," his
hands under the blanket feeling his stomach. "What did they
take out of me?"
Raylan felt his pulse again. "He's hangin' in, tough little
whatever he is, Sorta Rican? I can see these growers ripping him
off, but why'd they take his kidneys?"
"It's like that old story," Tim said. "Guy wakes up missing a kidney.
Has no idea who took it. People bring it up from time to
time, but nobody ever proved it happened."
"It has now," Raylan said.
"You can't live without kidneys," Tim said.
"Be hard," Raylan said. "Less you get on dialysis pretty
quick. What I don't see, what these pot growers are doing yanking
out people's kidneys. They aren't making it selling weed? I've
heard a whole cadaver, selling parts of it at a time? Will go for a
hundred grand. But you make more you sell enough weed, and
it isn't near as messy as dealing kidneys. What I'm wondering . . ."
He paused, thinking about it.
Tim said, "Yeah . . . ?"
"Who did the surgery?"
About noon, Art Mullen, Marshal in charge of the Harlan
field office, came by the motel to find Raylan still poking around
the room.
Art said, "You know what you're looking for?"
"Techs dusted the place," Raylan said, "picked up Angel's
clothes, bloody dressings, surgical staples, an empty sack of Mail
Pouch, but no kidneys. How's Angel doing?"
"They got him in intensive care, maintaining."
"He's gonna make it?"
"I think what keeps him alive," Art said, "he's half out but
mad as hell these weed dealers ripped him off. Took what he
paid for the reefer— if you believe him— and left him to die."
"Didn't mention," Raylan said, "they took his kidneys?"
"I kept making the point," Art said. " 'Tell me who these
boys are, we'll get your kidneys back for you.' He commenced to
breathe hard and the nurse shooed me out. No, but his kidneys,"
Art said, "were taken out by someone knew what he was doing."
Raylan said, "They were taken out the front."
"They're always taken out the front. Only this was the latest
procedure. Smaller incision and they don't cut through any
"I'd like to see Angel," Raylan said, "less you don't want
me to. I've known him since that time he was brought up for selling khat.
When I was on court duty in Miami. Angel and I
got along pretty good," Raylan said. "I think he believes I saved
his life."
"You probably did."
"So he oughta be willing to talk to me."
"He's at Cumberland Regional," Art said. "Maybe they'll let
you see him, maybe not. Where're your partners?"
"There wasn't anything pressing— I told 'em go on back to
"They took the SUV— how're you gonna get around?"
"We have Angel's BMW," Raylan said, "don't we?"
Angel was lying on his back, his eyes closed. Raylan got
down close, brushed Angel's hair out of his face, caught a whiff
of hospital breath and said in a whisper, "Your old court buddy
from Miami's here, Raylan Givens." Angel's eyes came open.
"Was that time you went down for selling khat."
Now it looked like Angel was trying to grin.
"Did you know," Raylan said, "I saved your life this morning?
Another five minutes in that ice water you'd of froze to
death. Thank the Lord I got there when I did."
"For what, to arrest me?"
"You're alive, partner, that's the main thing. Maybe a little
pale's all."
Pale— he looked like he was dead.
"They hook my arm to a machine," Angel said, "takes the
impurities from my blood and keeps me alive long as I can wait
for a kidney. Or I have a relative like a brother wants to give me
"You have a brother?"
"I have someone better."
Smiling now. He was, and Raylan said, "You know I won't
tell where you're getting this kidney, you don't want me to."
"Everybody in the hospital knows," Angel said. "They send
me a fax. You believe it? The nurse comes in and reads it to me.
Tanya, tha's her name. She's very fine, with skin you know will
be soft you touch it. Tanya, man. I ask her she like to go to Lexington
with me when I'm better. You know, I always like a nurse.
You don't have to bullshit them too much."
"The fax," Raylan said. "You get to buy your kidneys back
for how much?"
"A hundred grand," Angel said, "tha's what they offer. You
imagine the balls on these redneck guys? They bring a surgeon
last night so they can take my fucking kidneys and rip me off
twice, counting what they stole from me. They say if I only want
one kidney is still a hundred grand."
Raylan said, "The hospital knows what's going on?"
"I tole you, everybody knows, the doctors, the nurses, Tanya.
They send the fax, then one of them calls the hospital and makes
the arrangement. Nobody saw who deliver them."
"The hospital knows they're yours?"
"Why can't you get that in your head?"
"And they go along with it?"
"Or what, let me die? They not paying for the kidneys."
"When do you have to come up with the money?"
"They say they give me a break, a week or so."
"You know these boys— tell me who they are."
"They kill me. No hurry, get around to it."
"And take your kidneys back," Raylan said. "I don't believe I
ever heard of this one. You know the hospital called the police."
"The police already talk to me. I tole them I don't know
these guys. Never saw them before."
"Or know who's telling them what to do?" Raylan said.
Angel stared at Raylan. "I don't follow you."
"You think your guys came up with this new way to score?
They can take whoever they want off the street," Raylan said,
"while this doctor's scrubbing up for surgery. Why should they be
picky, wait for a drug deal to go down?" Raylan paused. He said,
"You want, I'll help you out."
"For what? You find product in that motel room? Man, I'm
the victim of a crime and you want to fucking put me in jail?"
Finally they reached a point, Angel on a gurney on his way
to the operating room, Raylan tagging along next to it saying,
"Give me a name. I swear on my star you won't have to pay for
either one."
He watched Angel shake his head saying, "You don't know
these people."
"I will, you tell me who they are."
"You have to go in the woods to find them."
"Buddy, it's what I do." They were coming to double doors
swinging open. "I call Lexington with the names and they e-mail
me their sheets. I might even know these guys."
"They grow reefer," Angel said, "from here to West Virginia."


Excerpted from Raylan by Elmore Leonard Copyright © 2012 by Elmore Leonard. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Raylan 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 75 reviews.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
Resurrecting Raylan Givens, the U.S. Marshall from Kentucky given to wearing a Stetson cowboy hat and shooting instead of apprehending, Elmore Leonard once again uses his unusual talent for writing droll dialogue and creating amusing and unusual characters to entertain the reader. This time, he begins in Harlan County, where marijuana is king instead of coal (100 pounds of weed can fetch $300,000) which apparently doesn’t satisfy two nincompoop sons of the dope-grower who turn their attention to reaping and selling body parts. Then the author goes on to tell us about another cast of characters, with the slyness only he can muster. It’s a world only people created by Leonard inhabit, and they talk as only he can make them speak. Read it and laugh. Highly recommended.
McCarthy92 More than 1 year ago
I love Elmore Leonard and I love the FX series Justified, led by one of the greatest TV characters, Raylan Givens. Inspired by the excellent series, Leonard decided to write a new novel featuring Givens, a U.S. Marshall in Harlan County, Kentucky. Raylan, as all Leonard's novels do, features spectacular dialogue, which is always entertaining to read, along with characters that are always interesting to follow as they go through several double-crosses and gunfights. Raylan isn't as much a novel as it is a book with inter-twined novellas. Reviews for the book have said that there are three "novellas", but from what I read, there are clearly four, excellent, fun novellas in Elmore Leonard's most recent criminal masterpiece.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is more of a series of well-written stories than a novel. As Raylan wanders around Kentucky the plot meanders too, without any real cohesion. Ultimately, there is a tie, but the thread is very thin.
Willon More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan of the series Justified since it came out. When I found out that it was taken from Elmore Leanord's novels I had to read them. I love his writing style and this book does not disappoint. The characters of Reylan Givens, Boyd Crowder, the Crow brothers and others are all introduced in this book. Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I read this, I kept seeing the actors and actresses from "Justified" in the characters. I found myself laughing at some of the scenes. Will have to look for the first two books to see how the characters began. I enjoyed it & would recommend it.
jonibo More than 1 year ago
I don't often think a television series or movie is better than the book but this is one of those times that I could have skipped the book. While I like the character Raylan Givens, the characters in the book are not well developed so if I had not already been familiar with them by watching "Justified" the book would have been very weak indeed. Also, the story seemed to have no cohesiveness. As a previous review mentioned, it was like two episodes written into a book. However, in this case there was no character development to meld the two together. I commend the producers of "Justified" for "seeing" promise in Raylan because this book was disappointing after watching the series.
otterly More than 1 year ago
Raylan Givens is a federal marshall who endeavors to keep order in the coal country--not the easiest thing to do. A young college coed is helped by Raylan so she can win a large amount of money for her college expenses. I think that I have already read books by Elmore Leonard, but think that a book group might enjoy discussing this book.
BAB5 More than 1 year ago
Sorry not to be more help. I am just starting to use Nook and this book was bought as a exercise in buying so that I would be sure about how to do it. I have not read it yet. I am now using the audio books and enjoying that a lot. More later.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To confusing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed it very much. Watched his series on TV. Sorry it has ended.
JCD2 More than 1 year ago
Raylan Givens is a hero without trying and funny without realizing it.  His down home humor and straight shooting make him one of the most likable law men ever.  All his stories written by Elmore Leonard are thoroughly entertaining.
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Raylan Givens knows how to show a lady a good time. ~Linda Baker~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great fun, interesting cast of characters, and sexy marshal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rebel-reader More than 1 year ago
Raylan is an interesting character and Elmore provides a little humor
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not one of Elmore Leonard's better works to say the leas.
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Zed1955 More than 1 year ago
If you're familiar with the tv series, you'll like this one. It has Boyd Crowder, the Crowes, and plenty of action. Raylan is bad-ass.
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