Fire In The Hole by Elmore Leonard – Reviewed by Guy Portman
This compilation, consisting of 9 short stories, is named after its longest title, Fire In The Hole, the inspiration for the television series Justified. It begins with a Kentucky-based Nazi called Boyd blowing up a church with a grenade launcher. When US Marshal Raylan arrives to investigate, he becomes reacquainted with Ava, an old school friend. Ava has recently killed her husband, Boyd’s brother.
Vengeful Colombian mail order brides are the subjects of When the Women Come Out to Dance. The aptly named Karen Makes Out sees Federal Marshal Karen Sisco mixing business with pleasure. In Tenkiller a trio of nefarious hillbillies have occupied a farm, much to the chagrin of its owner.
This authentic and atmospheric American-based collection boasts a strong array of characters, lean prose, effective dialogue and abrupt finales. Themes include guns, conflict and relationships. There are several occasions when liberties are taken with grammar. This is a trademark of an author who refused to allow rules to slow the pace.
Whilst these tales are for the most part contemporary, 2 of them, Hurrah for Captain Early and The Tonto Woman, are set in the Wild West, a haphazard approach this reader found rather distracting. Nevertheless Fire In The Hole is a compelling introduction to crime-writing maestro Leonard’s work.
It should be noted that this book is a reissue of an old title, When the Women Come Out to Dance. Evidently the publisher wanted to cash in on the popularity of the television series.