I've been binge-watching FX's series Justified, and decided it might be fun to extend my binge by reading the Elmore Leonard books that inspired the series. I figured I'd start out with Pronto, the first novel to feature stetson-wearing Federal Marshal Raylan Givens, native of Harlan County and veteran of the Kentucky mines. Marshal Givens soon takes Harry into custody, but Harry tricks Raylan and gets away.
I started with a guaranteed like in the form of Run Punch and then it came to my attention that there was a little book called Pronto at the library. Said book just happened to be inspiration for one of my husbands favorite television shows, which he claimed was worthy of . Me, being the extremely clever lady I am, decided to give the book a gander, then surprise my husband with my vast knowledge of all things Raylan Givens and perhaps even enjoy the final season of Justified with him. Leonard even decided to throw in an Italian background to class things up a bit.
This is actually the story of Harry Arno, a bookie who has decided that in one more year he's going to retire and go to Italy. This leads to a peculiar obsession for a man like Harry--he's an expert on Ezra Pound (the English teacher in me loved this quirky little twist), can quote lines from memory and reads Pound biographies despite the fact that he doesn't really understand his poetry (does anyone, really? It's also amusing how his fixation on Pound affects those around him (his girlfriend, Joyce, memorizes all of the terrible things about ol' Ezra and even Raylan, after being assigned to escort Harry, goes to the library and checks out some of Pound's poetry, though he's puzzled by everything he reads and soon gives up). Raylan Givens is the U.S. Marshal who decides to go to Italy and try to save Harry from himself and from the hitman he knows has followed Harry. I'll definitely be reading Riding the Rap and tracking down the Raylan Givens' short stories to sustain me until the next season of Justified.
The Raylan Givens character that Elmore Leonard introduced in this book is the basis of a new TV show called Justified that will be premiering soon. His plans get escalated when the feds make Harrys mob partner think that hes been skimming to force Harry to become a witness to avoid being killed.
Pronto is my first read from Elmore Leonard and its all because of the introduction of one Raylan Givens, the character the TV series Justified is based on, which Im a big fan of. I will follow up with the next in the series because Raylan as you may have guessed is a bit of a favourite and this story whilst absorbing, was never translated into an episode of Justified.
When reading his books, I never much paid attention to the plots because I was too engaged in his characters. You got to know them in the course of a book, and you wanted to spend time with them.
The story opens in South Miami Beach, where 66-year-old Harry Arno ("He was the same age as Paul Newman", Leonard mentions) is in a tight spot. If it was ten or twelve years ago, and Jimmy told Tommy Bucks in those words, 'Handle it,' that would be a different story. If he does, you send for another Zip." Keeping Harry in Miami is Joyce Patton, a 40-year-old catalog model and cocktail waitress he's been seeing off and on. Enter Raylan Givens, a man Joyce reports looks more like a farmer than a fed. Six years ago, escorting the bookie to testify before a grand jury in Atlanta, Harry slipped out on Raylan in the airport. After losing Harry in Atlanta five years ago, Raylan was reassigned to Glynco as a firearms instructor, the talent there is no doubt he possessed being the handling of guns. When he loses Harry a second time, Raylan takes it personally. He recalls the bookie telling him a secret five years ago, a story about the time Harry shot a deserter in Italy, in a town called Rapallo. Using far less sophisticated means, the Zip learns where to look for Harry and returns to his home country, where a network of fellow Zips are more than happy to help him find a guy. -- I don't like that for much of the novel, Raylan seems to be a poor law enforcement agent. You staying here on your holiday?" "I've got a place," Harry said, and then came right out and told him, "a villa. -- I do like that Leonard took a holiday from Miami Beach and tried his hand at a different locale, relocating much of the story to Italy. I had Raylan Givens pegged as both a poor excuse for a marshal, but Leonard flips all those presumptions on their head in the climax. If Doc Holliday stepped out of a time machine into the present day, he'd behave a lot like Raylan Givens -- short on legal expertise or investigative techniques, long on marksmanship and justice. Elmore Leonard circled back to Raylan Givens with his next novel, Riding the Rap in 1995. Ten years later, the last novel Leonard would publish picked up the character with Raylan.
Like Brighton Rock the book is character-driven and filled with organized crime figures, hit-men, mobsters, bookies, and a diligent investigator, Raylan Givens. You keep reading page after page because you want to know more about them, as we in life want to know more about the interesting people around us. And just as in life, we never fully know as much about these interesting people as we would like to know.
Pull down thy vanity...' -- Ezra Pound, Canto LXXXI Not the best Elmore Leonard, but worth it for three major things: 1. This is the first Elmore Leonard novel that features Raylan Givens (later to appear in the FX series Justified). Imagine the possibility of Elmore Leonard writing about Ezra Pound. From a ROI perspective, a prospective writer will, IMHO, do way better by spending $1000 buying and reading stuff from writers like Thompson, MacDonald, Leonard, etc., than $50-100k to get an MFA in creative writing.
The novel was well done when it comes to dark humor as usual.The only reason i dont rate this book higher with more stars is that other characters was not as well written as Raylan.