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CR3 #41: When the Women Come Out to Dance by Elmore Leonard

If it weren't for Timothy Olyphant, I never would have picked up this book.

Let me clarify: I started watching Justified on FX because Timothy Olyphant is basically sex on a stick. It turned out the show is actually pretty awesome, and not JUST because of Olyphantastic, there. It's a well-written show with some truly fascinating characters, set in an unfamiliar but richly detailed world.

I noticed recently while watching a note saying the show was "Based on the short story 'Fire in the Hole' by Elmore Leonard." I figured that since I enjoy the show so much, I should give the source material a chance.

Lucky me!

This collection of short stories by Elmore Leonard is exactly what a short collection should be: each piece is a small, detailed, stand-alone world. The characters, though briefly sketched, definitely come alive. We find the first run-in between Marshall Raylan Givens and his childhood friend and current target Boyd Crowder (basically the pilot episode of Justified, with a slightly different ending). There's a run-in between Karen Sisco (played on the big screen by Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight) and a new boyfriend. There are other stories, nearly all of which could easily be expanded into films or TV shows. Leonard's writing is interesting, funny, and to the point. Most of the stories are set in the west, either in the past or modern times.

I often have trouble with short stories, because they either are too short and I find them unfulfilling, or they are trying too hard to be "artistic" and miss out on being GOOD STORIES. Leonard has avoided both of those pitfalls--although I would have been happy to follow almost all of these characters beyond their stories, each story was put together in such a way that I didn't feel I was being shortchanged when the end came.

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys well-written short stories, or to anyone who likes old-school stories of the American west.

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