Review #23: Pronto by Elmore Leonard

10 Apr

Recently, I’ve become unhealthily obsessed with FX’sJustified” and in honor of the Season 3 finale airing tonight, I picked up Leonard’s first Raylan Givens novel, Pronto, this past weekend.   In terms of book to film/television adaptations, I’m not a purist. I think it’s irrelevant whether the book matches the adaptation exactly. Ideally, I want to book and the movie to offer me two distinct, enjoyable experiences.


Shame on reading me for failing to read an Elmore Leonard crime novel before.  Because the dialogue is unbelievably great.  It’s sharp, it’s snappy,  it’s sassy. Every carefully chosen word adds something – whether it’s exposing a character’s motivations, pushing the plot along or making you giggle out loud. The language is so precise, and so beautiful, that no real conversation could ever be so fluid. But it still feels real, and familiar, because Leonard writes conversations the way we rehearse them in our heads.  When you practice a conversation, you imagine that each word lands with its full meaning, pauses are significant and there are zero miscommunications.  That’s how Leonard writes, and it is wonderful to read.


On the plot front, to borrow a quote from Deputy Tim Gutterson, Pronto is Raylan doing what he does best – going all Raylan on everyone who dares to cross his path.  Raylan tracks down a fugitive to Italy, seduces a lady or two, outdraws everyone who crosses him, and stirs up trouble all in the name of bringing the fugitive home and rescuing his reputation. The characters are sharply drawn, and while their motivations are simple, they ring true.


Compared to “Justified,” Raylan is different. He’s chattier and you have a better understanding of the way his mind works.  But he’s the reckless Raylan we know and love from season 1, making him  a little more fun.  There are significant differences between Raylan’s life in the novels and on television, and he feels much lighter in the book than on the show. The books are a wholly different, but still entirely worthwhile, experience. Basically, he’s sassing criminals all over Italy while wearing his signature hat. What’s not to love?


In case you’re wondering about timing, Leonard wrote two Raylan Givens novels in the early 1990s, followed by the short story “Fire in the Hole” where Given returns home to Harlan. FX’s “Justified” is technically based on the short story. Leonard published a third Givens novel, Raylan, more recently, after the success of the show.



2 Responses to “Review #23: Pronto by Elmore Leonard”

  1. Lisa LaVergne-Pottgen April 10, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    I had actually never heard of this author before, but you make me want to read his books! I like a good book that makes good use of dialogue and can draw me into the story. Thanks for posting this!


  1. HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #23: Pronto by Elmore Leonard « Cannonball Read IV - April 10, 2012

    […] And there’s more… Share this:ShareTwitterFacebookEmailDiggStumbleUpon Posted by hellokatieo in 3 stars – a good book and tagged book review, books, CBR4, Elmore Leonard, FX (TV channel), hellokatieo, Justified, Pronto, Raylan Givens, reviews, United States Marshals Service […]

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