Justified is one of my favorite TV shows of all-time, so when I read recently that the producers of that show are in talks to bring the character of Raylan Givens back in a new series, I quickly snapped up the book in question. At first, City Primeval seems like odd choice, since Raylan does not appear in it, but TV writers are clever and I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Otherwise, the novel is Leonard in top form and thus perfect fodder for television.
When a corrupt judge is murdered there’s no shortage of suspects or possible motives, but Judge Alvin Guy just happened to be driving his car in the wrong place at the wrong time. When the evidence points in the direction of career criminal Clement Mansell, the Detroit Police are determined to get their man, especially since he’d walked out of court on a technicality after a triple-homicide years before.
Leading the investigation is Raymond Cruz, an old-fashioned lawman who can’t seem to make the women in his life understand why cares so much about closing the case. Cruz is joined in his efforts by a diverse group of wise-cracking, world weary cops who know there are more bad guys out there than they could ever hope to catch.
Mansell is clever enough in his own way but his legal loophole escape was facilitated by hot-shot lawyer Carolyn Wilder, who discovered her calling to the law after her own divorce lawyer screwed her over and left her with a pittance. Wilder is normally unflappable, but even she is on edge around Mansell.
As Mansell continues his crime spree just out of the grasp of law enforcement, Raymond Cruz is put into a quandary. The law seems inadequate to address a conscienceless force like Mansell, but how far outside the lines can Cruz go and still return?
Leonard’s personal touches are on full display here. The bad guys and the cops screw up in nearly equal measure because after all, they’re only human. They use movie and TV references to relate to one another, and they never miss a chance to give each other crap. While Leonard’s tacit endorsement of police misbehavior might not sit well with many, and will provide a big challenge to the producers of the TV show, it is couched in enough surreality to compensate.