Book review: Hombre by Elmore Leonard

HombreHombre by Elmore Leonard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So now you want to ride with me. I’m sure I won’t regret this…

John Russell is headed back to “civilisation”* on the last stagecoach headed north. Some of the folks onboard think Russell is an “Indian”* and don’t want to ride with him. But when bandits come for the stolen money one of the other passengers has with him, suddenly they want to ride with Russell.

Since this is an Elmore Leonard story, I really expected more from it. There isn’t anything bad about it, but this is far from Leonard’s best. It reminded me of a collection of Leonard’s short stories I own and how his best stories were immediately memorable, while the rest feel like just so many words in comparison.

It surprised me to learn that this story was turned into a Paul Newman film in the 60s. Given the positive reviews the movie has, it may be better than the book.

*I’ve used these terms as they relate to the text despite them being inaccurate.

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RIP Elmore Leonard

Elmore

 

I was saddened to hear of Elmore Leonard’s passing at age 87. He leaves behind a legacy of fantastic writing and his influence will continue. As a tribute I’m posting his ten rules of writing, but I also recommend picking up one of his many works to see how he could impart more in a few sentences than others could in an entire chapter.

Book Review: Lullaby Town by Robert Crais

Lullaby Town (Elvis Cole, #3)Lullaby Town by Robert Crais
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

People who read my reviews will know that I’m not a fan of literary fiction. Elmore Leonard has a list of rules on writing, one of those rules is to leave out the parts that people skip. Literary fiction is loaded with those parts you want to skip. Robert Crais must be a fan of Leonard as well.

The last book I started to read was a literary fiction author trying to write a crime thriller. Lullaby Town is Robert’s example of why literary fiction authors can’t make the switch to genre fiction.

Elvis and Pike are back, this time sorting out what should have been a simple family reunion, but ends up with the New York mafia wanting them dead. My only regret with finishing this novel is that my pile of Crais books have now been read and I have to buy the rest before reading more.

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Book Review: Raylan by Elmore Leonard

RaylanRaylan by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Raylan: “What did he want to know?”
Art: “Whether you’d shot anybody this week.”

I remember reading Elmore’s rules of writing and fixing upon his rule “leave out the stuff people skip”. This novel is a testament to that rule; there is nothing you want to skip in it. This is one of those books that feels like you are immersed in a world, something that Elmore has been widely praised for.

This novel, Raylan, is not really a novel. Think of this work as three novellas held together with some overlap, like, say, a TV series. I think it is fair to say that you can see entire plot and character arcs from seasons two and three of Justified in this book. Clearly this isn’t a coincidence, with Elmore joining the writing team for Justified in the second season.

Far from being a criticism, the similarities between Raylan and Justified actually makes this book a cool compendium companion to the series. Just be warned, Boyd is not quite the devious and intelligent character you want to see succeed, as you do in Justified.

For fans of Justified, you will no doubt have your Morgan Freeman and Sean Connery moment, as you read all of the book with the character’s voices.

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Book Review: Holiday reading

I’m back from my holiday, refreshed, revived and vertical. To kick off my post-holiday blogging I thought I’d review the books that entertained me over the break.

On Writing – Steven King
I finished this book off on a rainy afternoon. I immediately sat down and wrote a lovely little short story that will tie in with my first novel – Overturned Stones. I can’t recommend this memoir highly enough to writers. Although I must warn everyone that you may incur a sore neck from nodding in agreement.

The Emperor’s Tomb – Steve Berry
I bought this book the week it came out in Australia in paperback, only now have I managed to read it. This is another solid thriller from Berry, with Cassiopeia and Cotton trying to stop a power brawl in China. He also touches on the much debunked abiotic oil theory (1, 2).

When the Women Come Out to Dance – Elmore Leonard
This is a collection of Leonard’s short stories; including Fire in the Hole, upon which the TV show Justified is based. There is the characteristic Leonard dialogue and characterisation present in some great little stories. Aside from the last story in the collection, I quite enjoyed this book.

The Dead Man: Blood Mesa – James Reasoner, Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin
In fairness, I actually read this before I went on holiday, but didn’t get around to posting my review. My review: bloody good. Matt and his axe are back and a bunch of archaeologists get the sharp end after the touch of Mr Dark. James has done a great job, as Lee and Will continue to find very talented writers to help with this series.

Implant – Jeffrey Anderson, Michael Wallace
I’ve been plugging away at this book for a while now. I’ve finally given up on it as it hasn’t grabbed me. Nothing wrong with the book – it is well written, the concept is solid, the characters interact well – it just doesn’t appear to be to my taste. I’ll probably come back to this one at a latter date.