Raylan Givens, the U.S. Marshal who brought law and order to Pronto (1993), is back in a series of three interlinked stories disguised as a novel.
The first and most successful of the stories complicates Raylan’s apprehension of marijuana trader Angel Arenas with the discovery that the dealers with whom Angel was meeting left with his money, his grass and his kidneys, which they propose to sell back to him for $100,000 (the price they demand for either one or both). Raylan’s questioning of Pervis Crowe, eastern Kentucky’s top marijuana grower, soon leads him to a transplant nurse known, for excellent reasons, as Layla the Dragon Lady. Their encounter ends with a sizable body count and Pervis’s oath of vengeance. Raylan’s second adventure pits him against Carol Conlan, a law-school–trained vice president of M-T Mining, whose skills in dealing with the problems that beset her employer extend far beyond the courtroom. After their conflict ends in a standoff, Leonard introduces still another strong woman, poker-playing Butler College student Jackie Nevada, who’s staked by aging horseman Harry Burgoyne, who’d appeared more briefly in the first tale. The villain of this third piece, Delroy Lewis, forces three of his female acquaintances to rob banks and then gets mighty annoyed when one of them ends up with an exploding dye packet. The fadeout finds Leonard acting as if he’s wrapped everything up, but you have to wonder.
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.