Fire in the Hole

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Consumer note: this collection of Elmore Leonard yarns was previously published under the title When the Women Come Out To Dance. So if you own When the Women Come Out To Dance, you might not want to plunk down cash for this too. (Or maybe you do, I don't know your book-buying motives.)

Anyway, I bought it because I embarked on this project to read all Leonard's works that contained Raylan Givens, due to my fanboyhood for the Justified TV series. That involved me reading the other eight stories in this slim volume, too. But that's OK.

The Fire in the Hole story sort of follows the premiere episode of Justified. Raylan has been assigned to the US Marshals in Kentucky, his old stomping ground. In the meantime, his old acquaintance, Boyd Crowder, has formed a white supremecist/Nazi group that likes to blow things up and rob banks. This sets Raylan and Boyd on a collision course, complicated by the further fact that Ava, over whom Raylan mooned in high school, has recently shot Boyd's brother (and her husband), Bowman, dead.

Big change between the TV show and the book, not a spoiler at this late date: Boyd dies.

The other stories in the book are good, but none to make me rush out to get the non-Raylan titles in the Leonardian canon. Capsule summaries: (1) an arson investigator interrogates a comely lass who might have burned her place down, using a California wildfire as cover; (2) an ex-ballplayer tries to parley his mostly-nonexistent fame into a celebrity gig at a casino; (3) a couple folks in a retirement community banter (really!); (4) shady deals are made between an ex-stripper unhappily maried to an abusive tycoon and her new Central American maid; (5) Leonard regular Karen Sisco (also a US Marshal) finds herself involved with Carl, who just might be a bank robber; (6) an African-American veteran of the Spanish-American War and the Rough Riders has some conflict with racist small-town inhabitants, as one of his comrades returns to a hero's welcome; (7) a cattle thief gets unexpectedly involved with the tattooed/disfigured wife of the baron he plans to rob; and (8) an ex-rodeo star, ex-movie stuntman returns to his hometown to find that his ranch has been taken over by petty (but violent) criminals.

Last Modified 2019-04-14 7:04 PM EDT