Elmore Leonard (1925-2013) is best known for his many crime novel, which took the hardboiled conventions of his predecessors (Chandler, Cain, Hammett) and added sardonic humor, sharp dialogue, and a lot of criminals who aren't as smart as they think they are. He pretty much created the template for the 90s crime/noir films, which often mixed violence, humor, and colorful characters. When he started out though, he wrote Western stories. A bunch of them are collected for the first time in this volume. Most are set in the Southwest and date from the 50s and if they're not as accomplished as his later work, there's the same tight plotting, crisp dialogue, and laconic characters. The most famous is "Three-Ten to Yuma," which was filmed twice. The Leonard fan will recognize "Only Good Ones" as an earlier version of his novel "Valdez is Coming." What's sometimes overlooked in Leonard's work is that he was concerned about injustice and racism (although he's never preachy), which comes through in later stories like "The Tonto Woman" and the excellent "Hurray for Captain Early!" A must for the Leonard fan in your life.
These stories about strong slow talking cowboys and intellegent , bold native people are as exciting to read now as when they were written in the 1950s.
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