Tag Archives: Elmore Leonard

The blurb says “Dark and droll” and that’s about right.

73. Raylan – Elmore Leonard

Timothy Olyphant’s influence on the Raylan character is definitely at play in the first Raylan-focused novel published after Justified hit the screen. It’s fair – Olyphant’s Raylan is exactly who I want to picture as Raylan Givens. When reading Raylan, it’s interesting to see the differences in how Leonard deals with his characters after the show, including those who barely got much time on Justified (like Jackie Nevada), and how he deals with the changes in the timeline. It’s a good thing Justified was such a damn good show – would’ve been hard to live up to Elmore Leonard’s legacy otherwise. The saga of Dewey Crowe-take on the kidney theft storyline from this book is one of my favorite things Justified has done. Dewey fucking Crowe.

Reading about Raylan Givens is like Horace settling in to his willow bridge with a nice, comfy blanket and a friendly squirrel to lie on – comfortable, enjoyable, worth it.

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My favorite chunk of dialogue: “Harmonicas give voice to the transient murderer inside us.”

25. Fifty Feet of Trouble – Justin Robinson

The continuing adventures of Nick Moss, private detective in the City of Devils , Fifty Feet of Trouble delivered on a number of levels; although I must report that I didn’t actually realize the significance of the title until the end and am somewhat embarrassed about it because it’s really perfect.

It was pretty easy to get distracted away from cataloging familiar situations and tropes in this one and I’m glad so much ground work was laid in City of Devils. It may be a surprise, but, I’m not as familiar as many readers might be with noir and classic hard-boiled detective stories. My mystery choices tend to be more Lansdale and Leonard than Hammett and I still found it really easy to see where the weirdo stuff, snappy dialogue, and I have to say- a lot more horrific elements this time (Damn those clowns right to hell!) of the mysteries I’m used to and the salty (pretty literally in this case) detective traditions stomp around with each other. Really though, damn those clowns. And they had their own church! That was effing terrifying. Robinson managed to broaden the world and give several City of Devils characters much more depth, including main meatstick Nick Moss, (and Serendipity got much more of a chance to glisten and shine with slime, which I didn’t know I was waiting for as a reader until after I finished) while also presenting a thoroughly sign-posted and well heeled pulpy as hell mystery. There’s some seriously deft handling of a large cast in a smoothly readable, surprisingly short amount of space. I never got confused. And now I know what happened to Escuerzo. Sheesh.

Meanwhile, my last pumpkin photo shoot was a less than deft example of how to handle a lot of characters. As always, Horace was being a good pig. Ozma, Peregrine, and Danger Crumples were not having it. Guinea pigs. Familiars of the thwarting kind.

Meanwhile, my last pumpkin photo shoot was a less than deft example of how to handle a lot of characters. As always, Horace was being a good pig. Ozma, Peregrine, and Danger Crumples were not having it. Guinea pigs. Familiars of the thwarting kind.

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“Lying causes cat piss smell.”

36. Riding the Rap – Elmore Leonard

A Deadwood movie has been green lit! Yay! Don’t suddenly back out! I started this year quite ill, the result of a long situation with some two inch thick ice and my trusty meat cleaver… and while I was ill I finally finished watching all of Deadwood. I’ve mentioned how much I love Justified on here before, so, basically I needed to catch up on the earlier incarnation of Timothy Olyphant, lawman. And since HBO DVDs do that evil thing where they force you to click on each episode individually and then each episode has its own menu and you have to click again in order to watch each episode and I have to have a continuous stream of something on my TV in order to sleep, I switched to Justified when I needed to pass out. So, lots of Timothy Olyphant, lawman, lots, all of it great. I do prefer Raylan to Seth Bullock, but it’s mostly because Raylan says a lot more…thanks to Elmore Leonard’s gifted dialogue. I’m hoping that in the Deadwood movie Seth says a lot more. I mean, I love Al and he did need to say the most, but, maybe Seth could say some more things while he’s grimly setting that jaw? A few more? I like hearing him talk.

The plot of Riding the Rap was adapted for Justified, and Raylan doesn’t quite have the major role that I wanted him to have in the book. The criminals in this story are definitely some serious hoopleheads, as usual, including but almost excluding Reverend Dawn, and it has all the Elmore Leonard hallmarks that make his crime novels worth reading, again I mention dialogue – it’s really important to me and he is truly the best -, so it’s good.

Boyd and Raylan, Swearengen and Bullock, Ozymandias and Danger Crumples.

Boyd and Raylan, Swearengen and Bullock, Ozymandias and Danger Crumples.

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Fire in the Hole

5. Sinner – Maggie Stiefvater

As soon as I saw that companion books were being written for the less-than-honorable characters in the Beautiful Creatures and Wolves of Mercy Falls series I was excited to read them. I often like the villain, well, “villain” as in, “not involved in the annoying teen romance that is the purpose of this series” and therefore allowed to not strain their heart strings – or mine –  characters better than the main characters in young adult series. Also, writing a decent contrary perspective is something that cool writers like Elmore Leonard do, and YA could use some more Elmore Leonard-ness. I cannot believe the last season of Justified is happening, I just love Boyd and Raylan so much… Okay, bad Elmore Leonard for TV digression, sorry. I really love Boyd and Raylan. No joke. Super sad to see Justified go.

Anyway, Sinner. Cole St. Clair was definitely the most interesting character in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and even though I know he’s from New York state, I constantly picture him as Ian the English guy from Lonely Planet with JNCOs and a black t-shirt. I know that image does not suit what anyone would be going for with a former rock star junkie werewolf, but, he’s no Trent Reznor and I don’t know enough about Andrew Eldritch’s personality and despite my usually reliable musical knowledge I can’t think of anyone else (maybe Al Jourgenson) who would be in a band named Narkotika on purpose. Maybe dude from Psychotica, but I didn’t listen to them and it seems to on the nose. Anyhoo, more digressions, I always liked Ian’s semi-maniacal enthusiasm for traveling, he seemed just as willing to please his audience by eating whatever was on offer, like that time in Mongolia he ate marmot – and then ate a sheep’s eyeball in a yurt because he was the honored guest. That’s crowd pleasing. He also had a clearly impressive sweater collection. Cole’s behavior was all over the place in this book and while I still like him, I don’t quite believe him as a character after this story. Occasionally, his behavior seemed too conscientious for a real man in his position and I kept wondering how old he is. I can’t remember it being mentioned. And I know he’s in a YA book, but this one straddled the line a bit in terms of him seeming more like a teen in terms of how he deals with relationships and yearning. Oh, the yearning for Isabel, who I no longer like that much.

Isabel now seems much more like a garden variety bitch model outside of Minnesota, but I guess that’s one type that dates rock stars and does not apologize to their cousins for constantly sending a stream of vitriol at them. Seriously, Isabel felt bad feelings for basically never saying anything nice to her cousin Sofia, but she never really apologized. She needs to apologize. Fictional character, apologize to your fictional cousin, NOW. Shoe shopping is not a sufficient apology for the emotional trauma you caused a young girl who clearly had experienced enough previous, divorce-based emotional trauma to use OCD-style living as a coping mechanism. I lost all my sympathy for Isabel through her treatment of others. And I’ve had relationships where I walked in on things that I misinterpreted because I was dating a suspicious character, so, we could have related. But she chose down and I chose slightly less down.

Anyway, both of them engaged in more adult behaviors than I would expect in YA while seeming like they hadn’t grown as characters…perhaps that is because this book is set in L.A. The secondary characters, as apparently writing those is one of Stiefvater’s strengths, were nicely drawn and enjoyable, although now I feel like I know better than to ask for their full stories. Unless they involve a scene where Isabel apologizes to Sofia.

Danger Crumples is expressing that Horace has something to apologize for if he ever turns around. Also, meet Horace. Maybe at some point you’ll see his face. He has one.

Danger Crumples is expressing that Horace has something to apologize for if he ever turns around. Also, meet Horace. Maybe at some point you’ll see his face. He has one.

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That’ll do.

27. Pronto – Elmore Leonard

Thaddeus and Harry Arno have some things in common – they both had ornery dispositions in their old age (although, really, sixty-six and possibly five [I’ve never been able to figure out how old Thaddeus was when I got him, but I had him for four and a half years] are not all that old), they’ve both traveled, they both had girlfriends, and they were both protected by people whose names begin with “Ra.” Granted, I am no Raylan Givens, but I could potentially be for Halloween, and Thaddeus wasn’t skimming off the books of Jimmy Cap and pursued to Rapallo, Italy. This is the first novel of Elmore Leonard’s to feature Raylan as a major character and several incidents from it have ended up on Justified in some form. I have to say though, I did not know that there was a television version of Pronto until I was double checking that this is the first Raylan book and Wade Messer from Justified was Raylan! It’s very hard for me to picture, so I’ll have to track that down. Apparently his hat was not right though. That’s an important detail. Of course, Olyphant’s hat isn’t right either, but it looks good. And I like James LeGros as Wade Messer, he and Dewey Crowe are seriously amusing together.

As far as I know, being in captivity and finally getting to live with Pammy prevented Thaddeus from a life of guinea pig crime. Living with me did not stop him from whistling louder than any other guinea pig I have ever had at seven AM to be fed, enjoying large amounts of Swiss chard, and establishing himself as pig-in-charge when Belvedere passed away. He was an excellent successor to my first family of guinea pigs and he was certainly a big part of the second since he made it obvious that he loved Pammy very, very much. He and Pammy had been in a cage together where Mr. Cheese and I used to buy our guinea pig food and they clearly remembered each other when reunited at my apartment, although they did not get to live together until a few months after Pammy was spayed (she had ovarian cysts, I wouldn’t have bothered with major girl-pig surgery just so they could live together, they were already touching noses through their grids). Thaddeus weathered pneumonia, being covered in essential oils to fight off two fungus situations (he was referred to as “Jersey Shore Thaddeus” during that time period because of the shiny, overly perfumed pig he became), and he is the second guinea pig that I’ve had that was allowed by the universe to die of just old age. On Christmas night. He also had an excellent sense of irony as in 2012, I thought he might not live through Christmas because he had begun losing weight rapidly around October. I managed to sort him out mostly then, and for all of 2013 he was off and on the weight loss train but always, always peppy and interested in eating his food, his treats, and his supplemental Critical Care. Always. He was pretty demanding. On Christmas morning, I knew he didn’t look like himself. I’d been debating about whether or not to put him down once he really couldn’t keep any weight on and started to have some trouble getting around; and just like several pigs before him, he made the decision for me. Thaddeus was a glorious pig.

I will always miss how sweet and comforting he could be.

Here he is with Pammy behind him, adorable as always.

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Death and melons

I know that no one can live forever, but I’m very sad to hear about Elmore Leonard’s  passing. He’s definitely leaving a seriously impressive body of work behind, including Out of Sight, which was such a thoroughly solid and fun reading experience – so rare – that I just wanted to read it again when I was done the first time. I was planning to post my semi-positive review of Mr. Majestyk tomorrow, but I guess I’ll post it today because of all the authors I could have been planning to review, I chose Elmore Leonard again. And that’s probably not significant – but regardless of any missteps, the man was a national treasure and a master of dialogue.

14. Mr. Majestyk – Elmore Leonard

So it’s been slim readin’s around these parts this summer and that may continue for a while. At least the next two months or so. I finally got myself a real library job that’s suited to my wants and talents and that involves one aspect of librarianship I have no experience with…this last part seems like an odd reason to hire me, but I’m glad they did. Unless it goes horribly wrong somehow- I’ve only been applying for five years and I have a mere nine full years of experience to my name in the field, I’m always filled with uncertainty. And I’m definitely not alone in that when it comes to employment. Anyway, good news makes me nauseous, and right now I’m trying to move, and that also makes me nauseous – so, reviewish time!

My path through Elmore Leonard’s works so far has been totally haphazard and I enjoy his writing a fair bit; however, sometimes I’m just not into it. Mr. Majestyk was interesting, like reading an action movie, but I wanted more. The female character was no Karen Sisco, I can tell you that. I don’t even remember her name and I totally read this book this year. This year! I remember that there was one other female character and she could have easily traded places with Bridget Fonda’s character in the film Jackie Brown (I have read Rum Punch, that was slow compared to Out of Sight) except that she reads instead of endlessly watching TV.

I feel like Mr. Majestyk could have said “Get off my lawn” at some point. I’m also not sure what kind of melons he had. I would like to know about the melons. They could be honeydews or my nemesis from childhood breakfasts at places where they didn’t know my preferences cantaloupes aka muskmelon aka creeping bad taste in the back of my throat. If I don’t know if I like your produce, I’m not sure I can side with you, vengeful farmer Mr. Majestyk. Although I certainly understand the issues of spoilage, from a harvesting and a use standpoint. Speaking of: Seriously, plastic-box packaged salad providers, if I have to toss half the butter lettuce when I open the lid and peel back the plastic, which is always on the same day I bought the package because the guinea pigs demanded a new treat- you got the use-by date wrong and I hate you (this has happened to me three times now). And Ozymandias will eat your souls when he finds you. The boy needs his butter lettuce. He can’t have romaine, man, he’s susceptible to bladder stones.

Thaddeus and Pammy bicker like they could have been Leonard characters.

“Tell me more about these melons; Pammy is bogarting all the parsley.” – Thaddeus

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That gum you like is going to come back in style.

35. Book of Shadows – Alexandra Sokoloff

I enjoy reading Alexandra Sokoloff’s books. They tend to be spritely and have quickly paced stories, which makes perfect sense as she is a screenwriter as well. They are also a little easy to dismiss, which is the problem I have with mysteries in general. I don’t read them terribly often, but from what I’ve experienced recommending them, one-shot mysteries can be very disposable and what people are really looking for is someone to follow – the DA, the Miss Marple, the bounty hunter, the two weird guys who will go into the swamp or the abandoned house, or the woman who keeps hearing random dead people telling her where they’re buried. The victims are rarely all that interesting. Sure, they tend to have sordid pasts or have been in the wrong place at the wrong time…but they’re not the focus unless it’s Twin Peaks and even then Laura wasn’t the end focus thanks to the awesomeness of Special Agent Dale Cooper. So maybe I just prefer to watch mysteries. The Killing, though, man, I just can’t say anything about that end result yet except a hearty, “Sheesh.” Bookwise I’ve dabbled into categorized as mystery novelists Elmore Leonard and Joe R. Lansdale and Charlaine Harris (although none of what I’ve read of any of these authors was very straightforwardly mystery). I’ve been told I might enjoy Janet Evanovich like masses of people across the nation but a. that’s a hamster and b. I’m not ready and I’ve got a lot of other books to go through. There are a lot of dead people to read about.

Anyway, Book of Shadows is definitely a mystery but it has supernatural elements like a sexy witch and ritual murder. There were some trips to the dump and the subtle harassment of a super-tool goth musician who was a red herring and that was so shocking. Overall, I would have watched it if it was a monster-of-the-week episode of Supernatural and enjoyed it a little more because there would have been some trusty guides to deal with the circumstances. Reading it was all right, a bit of a brain candy-style experience and I do not remember the name of the main character but the story flowed and the ending was a tad on the cheesy side. The ending of The Harrowing was a bit on the wonky side for me as well, so maybe Sokoloff has Stephen King’s ending syndrome where every so often, the reveal just blows for no good reason.

Snorecery. Twiglet prefers Leonard’s brand of problematic magic.

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Take off your sunglasses, Glenn.

27. Road Dogs – Elmore Leonard

Out of Sight is hands down my favorite Elmore Leonard work. There are pluses and minuses to each of his books, however, Out of Sight read like a shot and I was very pleasantly surprised by how it was put together. It was great. And the movie version was great too. It’s the only movie where I really thought Jennifer Lopez was doing a great job acting (she did well in Selena, but that movie has a greater significance in terms of its aims than Out of Sight). So, when I saw that Road Dogs would involve Jack Foley again I was excited to read it. And it was enjoyable, but it just didn’t have the electricity of Out of Sight. Maybe it’s because Karen Sisco and Glenn and the majority of the other characters from Out of Sight aren’t in it. Also, no Detroit. That’s a minus for me. The story was fine, it wasn’t terrible or ridiculous. It felt like a set of scenes that could have been excised from an epilogue to Out of Sight; where life is just moving on. That can be nice, but stakes are nice too.

What do you mean Karen and Glenn aren’t really in this one? I understand Karen may have had better things to do, but where’s Glenn? Steve Zahn did such a good job in that movie. - Murderface

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Poor Floyd.

24. Tishomingo Blues – Elmore Leonard

Mississippi is framed by areas with lots of casinos. In northern Mississippi, there’s Tunica. In southern Mississippi there’s the Gulf Coast with Gulfport and Biloxi, home of the Beau Rivage, the first casino I’ve ever entered and the casino where occasionally Kathy Griffin performs and I get irritated by my inability to pay the ticket prices. Tishomingo Blues takes place close to some casinos in northern Mississippi and involves a murder witness who also happens to be a performer – Dennis, master of high diving shows.

Elmore Leonard is one of those matter of fact writers that doesn’t leave anything out and doesn’t beat you over the head with the clues or twists in the storyline. His dialogue is solid and even though I have zero possibilities of being able to relate to most of his characters in this book I still enjoy reading about them. They’re fully realized doers, not wistful starers, and sometimes that’s really necessary. I also learned a lot while reading Tishomingo Blues, about a variety of blues musicians Robert kept playing in his car (he’s got a bit of that hipster “why haven’t you heard of this?” quality about him, but he’s not as condescending as the typical hipster), how to kill people for real during Civil War re-enactments without getting caught (you need a taco truck and a lot of assistants), and about how high diving into a tiny tank works including ladder rigging information.

Morty post-high dive. He's about to get ready to re-enact his great battle with Belvedere over the snowflake fleece blanket.

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