Raylan by Elmore Leonard


32 Critic Reviews

But the last 150 pages ultimately let the book down.
-AV Club


“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.


About Elmore Leonard

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Elmore Leonard has written more than forty books during his highly successful writing career, including the bestsellers Road Dogs, Up in Honey's Room, The Hot Kid, Mr. Paradise, Tishomingo Blues, and the critically acclaimed collection of short stories When the Women Come Out to Dance. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Be Cool. Justified, the hit series from FX, is based on Leonard's character Raylan Givens, who appears in Riding the Rap, Pronto, the short story "Fire in the Hole," and Raylan. Leonard is the recipient of the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA, and the Grand Master Award of the Mystery Writers of America. He lives in Bloomfield Village, Michigan.
Published January 17, 2012 by William Morrow. 277 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure, Westerns, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Feb 05 2012
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Raylan
All: 32 | Positive: 20 | Negative: 12


Below average
Jan 01 2012

A master’s valedictory canter around a familiar track—an unimpressive job of carpentry that’s still treasurable for Leonard’s patented dialogue and some truly loopy situations handled with deadpan brio.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Olen Steinhauer on Feb 02 2012

He’s a stylist of forward motion, placing narrative acceleration above inconveniences like pronouns and helping verbs...newcomers may find the transition from complete sentences daunting...

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Reviewed by Philip Hensher on Jan 27 2012

Like pretty well every Leonard novel, it is a delight.

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Tom Nolan on Jan 21 2012

Standing tall among the riffraff is charismatic Raylan Givens, in his navy-blue suit and sharp cowboy hat...

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Reviewed by Nola Cancel on Jan 29 2012

The dialogue is as fast as it is witty. The characters are rich and true to the small Kentucky coal-mine town that bred them. “Raylan” is Elmore Leonard at his best.

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Washington Times

Reviewed by William Morrow on Mar 20 2012

His plot twists are real twisty, and he eliminates some prime suspects before the book reaches its midpoint, only to come up with equally plausible, equally nasty new ones.

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Globe and Mail

Reviewed by LARRY ORENSTEIN on Feb 10 2012

...it’s pure Elmore Leonard. And that’s why we continue to worship him.

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AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Todd VanDerWerff on Feb 08 2012

But the last 150 pages ultimately let the book down.

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Toronto Star

Reviewed by Jack Batten on Feb 12 2012

Leonard tells the stories with no wasted motion, never coming close to violating number 10 in his famous writing rules... the one about leaving out the parts readers tend to skip.

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Entertainment Weekly

Reviewed by Ken Tucker on Jan 27 2012

Raylan, a punchy mix of crime and Kentucky coal-mine sociology, is a helluva lot more than a TV tie-in, though: It's one of Leonard's best thrillers in years.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Jan 22 2012

Raylan is as close as it gets to creating the complete illusion of unmediated entertainment on the page.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Reviewed by Robert Croan on May 09 2012

These are the qualities that Leonard fans have come to love, and his latest novel will not disappoint.

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Oregon Live

Below average
Reviewed by Jeff Baker on Jan 21 2012

It's a little sloppy and episodic, more like a TV show than a movie...

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Tampa Bay Times

Reviewed by Colette Bancroft on Jan 29 2012

It's more episodic than most of his novels, but those subplots still intersect when you least expect it, and the dialogue is as deliciously dry as the first martini of the night.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Reviewed by Charles Taylor on Jan 20 2012

The compressed form of the stories is perfect for a writer who long ago learned to pare away every extraneous word.

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Below average
Reviewed by Tara Ariano on Jan 17 2012

But Raylan, surprisingly, reads like an alternate-universe version of Justified, Season 2, with tantalizing possibilities for Season 3.

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Below average
Reviewed by Gene Seymour on Jan 26 2012

Leonard's deliberately baggy way with plotting, which blithely kept you on edge in his previous books, is more of a liability in "Raylan."

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Below average
Reviewed by Conrad Bibens on Feb 18 2012

Raylan is a good time though it’s not top-of-the-shelf Leonard.

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Reviewed by Vince Cosgrove on Jan 15 2012

“Raylan” is a smart, swift read, just what millions expect from Elmore Leonard.

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Reviewed by Andrea Simakis on Jan 29 2012

His characters leap from the page with a few short keystrokes, like a form of bloodstained haiku.

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The Australian

Reviewed by Graeme Blundell on Apr 28 2012

At the end you can only smile at how audaciously he has kept it all on the trot.

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Lit Reactor

Below average
Reviewed by Meredith Borders on Jan 30 2012

The concision of Leonard’s writing is invigorating and unique, but as much as I loved the bracing pace of Raylan, I can’t help but miss Raylan the man already. Get back to it, Leonard.

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When Falls the Coliseum

Reviewed by Lisa Hura on Mar 08 2012

Givens is a great character, but there are plenty of other interesting and oddball residents of Harlan County.

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Star Pulse

Reviewed by Brittany Frederick on Jan 24 2012

I would rank it as one of my favorites ever read.

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Reviewing the Evidence

Reviewed by Chris Roberts on Apr 01 2012

While some may favour Leonard's other protagonists over Raylan, the tight plotting and above all the wordplay is as good as ever.

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Onyx Reviews

Reviewed by Bev Vincent

Raylan is a breezy read that is funny at times and deadly at others

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Tyson Adams

Mar 04 2012

Far from being a criticism, the similarities between Raylan and Justified actually makes this book a cool compendium companion to the series.

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Crime and Publishing

Reviewed by Thomas on Feb 15 2012

Raylan is a fast-paced, absorbing read, from one of the doyens of the genre.

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The Story's Story

Below average
Reviewed by Jake Seliger on Mar 06 2012

The major problem in Raylan is an implausibility the novel itself mocks.

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True Media Solutions

Below average
Reviewed by Steve on Feb 21 2012

Leonard tries to bring the three stories together by having some characters briefly written into each of the three stories, but the attempt is obvious and does little to weld the three stories together at the seams.

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William Shunn

Below average
Mar 02 2012

I found the book to be an unfocused, disappointing mess.

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A Temporary Distraction

Below average
Reviewed by Simon Rowson on Feb 21 2012

‘Raylan’ often feels more like Leonard had a few vague ideas for episodes of the show and half-heatedly stretched them out into a full-length book.

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Dan Meierotto

Dan Meierotto 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list