Let’s get the rating part out of the way first. This was a 3.5 read for me that I am rounding up because the narrator is Brian d’Arcy James* and I love his voice, and what he is able to do with it while narrating the various characters, actions, and dialogue in Leonard’s version of the world.
Second, while Raylan is listed as a novel, it barely qualifies. It has the length certainly (a little over six hours of audio) but the way the story is structured is really closer to three novellas tied together, or a five-episode arc of the television series Justified**.
Also, I should fully admit that some of the rating of this book *might* have more to do with my affection for the characters than it does for the book itself. But, I am often rating a book based on characterization separate from plot, and Leonard has drawn the characters of Raylan and Boyd so clearly that I am a fan.
Raylan follows its titular character through a seemingly regular set up of Marshall Givens most likely problems in Harlan County and its environs. We follow him as he deals with the Crowes, the mining company, Loretta (but sadly, no Mags Bennett**), Boyd and Ava, the plot to steal kidneys, and a young female poker player who is caught up in a bust and mistaken for a bank robber.
You know, a typical day in the life for Raylan Givens.
I say if you are a fan of the author, the series, and good audiobooks this would be a choice for you. But only if you really like all three.
*He originated the role of King George III in Hamilton off Broadway and is in Something Rotten for which he was nominated for a Tony, and was apparently in Spotlight which I haven’t seen. But yes, this is a guy with a great voice and acting chops!
**I have only watched through season three, so the stories and characters in this book were like listening to an alternate universe telling of season two, which I watched relatively recently. It was a nice bit of nostalgia.