The New York Times Book Review
Raylan (Raylan Givens Series #3)by Elmore Leonard
“Elmore Leonard can write circles around almost anybody active in the crime novel today.”
—New York Times Book Review
With more than forty novels to his credit and still going strong, the legendary Elmore Leonard has well earned the title, “America’s greatest crime writer” (Newsweek). And U.S. Marshal Raylan/b>/b>
“Elmore Leonard can write circles around almost anybody active in the crime novel today.”
—New York Times Book Review
With more than forty novels to his credit and still going strong, the legendary Elmore Leonard has well earned the title, “America’s greatest crime writer” (Newsweek). And U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Pronto, Riding the Rap, Fire in the Hole) is one of Leonard’s most popular creations, thanks in part to the phenomenal success of the hit TV series “Justified.” Leonard’s Raylan shines a spotlight once again on the dedicated, if somewhat trigger-happy lawman, this time in his familiar but not particularly cozy milieu of Harlan County, Kentucky, where the drug dealing Crowe brothers are branching out into the human body parts business. Suspenseful, darkly wry and riveting, and crackling with Leonard’s trademark electric dialogue, Raylan is prime Grand Master Leonard as you have always loved him and always will.
The New York Times Book Review
Read an Excerpt
By Elmore Leonard
William MorrowCopyright © 2012 Elmore Leonard
All right reserved.
Chapter OneChapter 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
"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
"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
"Somebody shot him," Tim said.
"I don't think so," Raylan said, staring at the two incisions
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
"And you end up in the tub," Raylan said. "How much you
"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
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
"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 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
He watched Angel shake his head saying, "You don't know
"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.
Meet the Author
Elmore Leonard wrote more than forty books during his long career, including the bestsellers Raylan, Tishomingo Blues, Be Cool, Get Shorty, and Rum Punch, as well as the acclaimed collection When the Women Come Out to Dance, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty and Out of Sight. The short story "Fire in the Hole," and three books, including Raylan, were the basis for the FX hit show Justified. Leonard received the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He died in 2013.
- Bloomfield Village, Michigan
- Date of Birth:
- October 11, 1925
- Place of Birth:
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- B.Ph., University of Detroit, 1950
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not as good as the tv series but very entertaining with many of the great characters we learned to love in the series. Leonard's humor is always a treat! aj west
Love this book, especially after watching Justified.
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.
I enjoyed it very much. Watched his series on TV. Sorry it has ended.
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.
Raylan Givens knows how to show a lady a good time. ~Linda Baker~
Great fun, interesting cast of characters, and sexy marshal.
Raylan is an interesting character and Elmore provides a little humor
Not one of Elmore Leonard's better works to say the leas.
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.