cover image Charlie Martz and Other Stories

Charlie Martz and Other Stories

Elmore Leonard. Morrow, $25.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-236492-0

Written while Leonard (Raylan) held a day job as an advertising copywriter, this posthumous collection showcases the early writing of the author of westerns and crime stories, revealing his particular genius in embryonic, pulpish form. Fans of Justified’s Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens will recognize his roots in straight-shooting Charlie Martz, a lawman in the New Mexico Territory who is featured in several stories. Aficionados of the classic movie westerns 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, both adapted from Leonard’s short stories, will find a familiar narrative in “Confession,” in which a Catholic priest defends his church against two cold-blooded outlaws. Readers familiar with the mean streets of Leonard’s Detroit will feel right at home with “One, Horizontal,” as a man seeks revenge on the mobsters responsible for crippling his brother. Tough guys, another Leonard constant, clash in “For Something to Do,” in which a veterinarian squares off against a jealous boxer over a woman. Leonard’s trademark pitch-perfect ear for dialogue is on full display with the battling husband and wife of “The Italian Cut.” And lovers of his movie-business satire, Get Shorty, will laugh knowingly at the antics of an overlooked American film extra making a sword-and-sandals epic in Spain in “The Only Good Syrian Footsoldier Is a Dead One.” Despite the occasional dips into purple prose, the 15 stories in this collection are an enjoyable illustration of a writer taking his first halting steps toward greatness. [em](June) [/em]