I decided to take some time off from reviewing, so it’s time to catch back up. Happily, I’m getting back into the race with a good one, When the Women Come Out to Dance by Elmore Leonard. I’m a huge fan of the FX series Justified, so I finally decided to give the source material a try. I almost changed my mind when I saw the cover (legs do not looks like that), however, my love for U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens eventually won out. When the Women Come Out to Dance is a collection of straightforward, well-written, interesting short stories bound together vaguely with the theme of “crime.” From the first story in the book, Sparks, it’s apparent that Leonard has a knack for writing people. The stories are often no longer than 20 pages, but in that time you know the people in them, you know what motivates them, what troubles them, and their history. It takes a special kind of author to condense such impressive character development into a measly 20 pages. Leonard’s characters often find themselves on the wrong side of the law, but they are not wholly unsympathetic, they are people, they have flaws but they also have goodness.
I won’t discuss every story in the book, however, I will discuss the one that motivated me to read it, Fire in the Hole. Raylan Givens is a Deputy U. S. Marshal. He wears a ten gallon hat and cowboy boots. He looks like this:
Raylan is stationed in Miami when he warns a mob-connected gun-thug, Tommy Bucks, to get out of town within 24 hours. Bucks does not comply, Bucks is shot down. With the Federal Marshal Service fearing the ensuing bad press, Raylan is sent back to his hometown of Harlan County, Kentucky. It’s there that he rekindles an old flame, finds an old friend heading a neo-Nazi organization, and tries to live in a place he thought he would never have to return to.