US Marshall Raylan Givens returns in this third in the series from Elmore Leonard featuring the characters in the popular TV show Justified. The book really has three storylines – Raylan finds a man semi-comatose after having his kidneys removed, then must protect an unscrupulous mining executive, and finally is chasing a team of stripper who have turned into armed robbers. In each, Raylan is presented with a sexy protagonist, and Leonard has lots of fun with the interplay between Raylan’s desire to uphold the law, and his libido. At times even he can’t explain the choices he makes.

Like all Leonard books the plot is rudimentary, and Raylan can’t really be described as a mystery since it is clear pretty much from the outset who is doing what, and how things will end up. For many authors this would be quite crippling, but with Leonard the pleasure is found elsewhere. His ear for dialogue is peerless, and his ability to draw characters through what they say, and how they say it, is a marvel. Again and again wonderfully comic situations are finished with great timing. Raylan is a blast from start to finish, without any redundant writing, and we defy other crime fiction lovers to find a single boring scene within. It’s a major return to form, a book which only Leonard could write, and his best since Tishomingo Blues.

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