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Review: Raylan, by Elmore Leonard

HERB JOHNSON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
Federal marshall Raylan Givens and a team of SWAT guys descend on a motel in which they know they will find Angel Arenas, known drug dealer and wanted fugitive.
The SWAT guys lean toward busting down the door. Raylan gets a key from the manager, instead. That’s the kind of guy he is. A nice guy who will shoot you dead only if he feels you intend to do the same to him.
They find Angel in a bathtub of ice water with incisions stapled together that indicate that someone has removed his kidneys. There is no money in the room, and no drugs. This is a drug deal gone bad.
Rushed to the hospital, Angel recovers sufficiently to describe his assailants just enough that Raylan has a pretty good idea of who they are. From there, he deduces that the thugs are aided by a medical professional and soon figures out who that person is.
Then the scene shifts. The list of bad guys grows and Raylan finds himself looking for them in the mountains of Kentucky, where the strip mines are creating a living hell for the out-of-work underground miners who still live there. There are a lot of them and they are not happy. The mining company engages in drastic measures to deal with them and Raylan, in turn, has to deal with the mining company.
Then another character walks in. She’s a young university student who pays her expenses by playing poker. She is also a fugitive and, once again, it’s Raylan’s job to bring her to justice. Before he does that there a number of poker games they must attend. She’s very attractive and manages to win a great deal of money, which influences Raylan’s thinking when it comes to how soon he wants to put her in jail.
Sort of a loose book when it comes to plot. But a veritable treasure trove of Elmore Leonard dialogue. No one wrote dialogue better than Elmore. The whole book is one long conversation among people in Kentucky and who sound like folks who have lived there entire lives in one holler or another.
Good reading.

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