Elmore Leonard discusses the moral ambiguity of his protagonist, the struggle to make good guys as interesting as villains, and his thoughts on 'Justified,' the TV series based on his work.
By Dermot Cleary
All right, you’re looking at Harlan County, Ky., and there goes Boyd Crowder, a shady character if ever there was one.
Boyd has a knack for finding the kind of work that requires a rap sheet instead of a résumé.
Now he’s working for a company notorious for strip-mining mountaintops in the Appalachians, assigned to a dubious department known as Disagreements. His boss, the cruel and calculating Carol Conlan, swoops in and decides to make Boyd her personal chauffeur during her visit. Just one problem: Carol shoots a local resident who happens to be a victim of the mine company’s pollution, then pins the act on Boyd, claiming he had saved her from an unprovoked attack.
All of which explains why Boyd and Carol are getting testy, arguing as Boyd drives her through Kentucky. Carol threatens to fire Boyd and he recalls an earlier part of their conversation.
“You know you ended a sentence with a preposition? You said, ‘She’s here in a nursing home we’re payin for.’ ”
“Caught being ungrammatical.” Carol staring at his serious face.
“How should I have said it?”
“She’s here in a nursing home,” Boyd said, “for which we’re payin the costs.”
Welcome to the wonderful world of Elmore Leonard. The scene above comes from his latest book, “Raylan” (Morrow, $26.99, 272 pages). Raylan, of course, is Raylan Givens, a sharpshooting modern-day deputy US marshal with a penchant for intermittent bouts of moral ambiguity and a consistent case of walk-off zingers.
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