We Elmore Leonard fans are in a bad, bad way. Leonard, one of America’s great crime and Western novelists, died in 2013 at age 87. But we want more.
So his publisher, William Morrow, and his son Peter stepped up, digging through the archives and finding 15 short stories written in the 1950s and early ’60s, when Dutch was still honing his style.
Eleven of the tales appearing in Charlie Martz and Other Stories have never been published. Several are Westerns. Some are crime yarns. A few defy easy categorization.
One highlight is “Siesta in Paloverde,” in which Charlie Martz, a New Mexico sheriff, is outmatched by a gunfighter in a saloon showdown. Fans of Raylan Givens and Justified, the TV series inspired by one of Leonard’s classic characters, will appreciate the way Charlie bests the bad guy.
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Another winner is “The Only Good Syrian Foot Soldier Is a Dead One,” in which a wannabe movie star, languishing as an unheralded extra in a crummy Spanish sword-and-sandals picture, nails his on-screen death scene.
Some of the stories are entertaining. Most are merely OK. But what can we really expect? If any were truly great, they would have been published long ago.
— David Martindale
Charlie Martz and Other Stories: The Unpublished Stories
by Elmore Leonard
William Morrow, $25.99
Audiobook: HarperAudio, $29.99; read by actors Will Patton, Mark Bramhall, George Newbern, Tish Hicks and Nick Toren.