Phillip Thompson

Crime Fiction writer

FX — my favorite TV channel — is gearing up for the return of, arguably, my favorite show. That’d be “Justified,” wherein federal marshal and Kentuckian Raylan Givens takes on the local hillbilly crime family, his nemesis from his boyhood days (Boyd Crowder), outsiders (i.e., city slickers, damn Yankees and other assorted miscreants), his ex-wife, a scorned woman (I mean, different from his ex-wife) and even his own boss.

What’s not to like?

FX has already started running trailers aplenty and the show’s Facebook page has lit up recently with the same. And this awesome little tidbit: Harper Collins is releasing, for a limited time, a Kindle version (along with other e-book formats) of the original Elmore Leonard short story that got the whole thing started, “Fire in the Hole.” Yes, I’ve already downloaded it — it was only $1.99. It has bonus material! A sneak preview at Leonard’s upcoming novel, “Raylan.” You can guess what it’s about.

I have to list Elmore Leonard as an influence — either that, or one of my biggest guilty pleasures. I’ve written here before that he’s one of the best redneck noir writers working today — and he’s not even your stereotypical redneck. But he gets it. And he’s a hell of a storyteller. Many of his novels (Out of Sight, Get Shorty) have been turned into movies that are almost as good as the books. I don’t remember when I first read a Leonard novel, but I’ve been reading them ever since. And I’ve been reading them for years. He’s a master at dialogue, but especially dialect, which makes his characters jump off the page as you read. He’s also very good at scene-setting and creating an environment that feels as real as if you’re standing there. And he’s funny as hell, to boot.

And if you’re thinking, “Elmore Leonard? I thought he wrote Westerns,” you’d be right — he writes those, too: Joe Kidd and 3:10 to Yuma, for example.

In other words, he just might be exactly what Timothy Olyphant said he was: the coolest mother effer in literature.

WAnt to see how much of an influence Leonard is? Check out the “Deep Blood” link at the top of the page.


Here’s the list:

Filmed Novels:


Year Title Director Co-writers
1970 The Moonshine War Richard Quine
1972 Joe Kidd John Sturges
1974 Mr. Majestyk Richard Fleischer
1980 High Noon, Part II (TV) Jerry Jameson
1985 Stick Burt Reynolds Joseph Stinson
1986 52 Pick-Up John Frankenheimer John Steppling
1987 The Rosary Murders Fred Walton William X. Kienzle & Fred Walton
Desperado (TV series) Virgil W. Vogel
1989 Cat Chaser Abel Ferrara James Borelli


Year Novel Film Adaptation
1953 The Bounty Hunters
1954 The Law at Randado 1990 – Border Shootout
1956 Escape from Five Shadows
1959 Last Stand at Saber River 1997 – Last Stand at Saber River
1961 Hombre 1967 – Hombre
1969 The Big Bounce 1969 – The Big Bounce
2004 – The Big Bounce
The Moonshine War 1970 – The Moonshine War
1970 Valdez Is Coming 1971 – Valdez Is Coming
1972 Forty Lashes Less One
1974 Mr. Majestyk 1974 – Mr. Majestyk
52 Pick-Up 1984 – The Ambassador
1986 – 52 Pick-Up
1976 Swag
1977 Unknown Man No. 89
The Hunted
1978 The Switch
1979 Gunsights
1980 City Primeval
Gold Coast 1997 TV film
1981 Split Images 1992 TV movie
1982 Cat Chaser 1989 – Cat Chaser
1983 Stick 1985 – Stick
Edgar Award, Best Novel (1984)
1985 Glitz 1988 TV film
1987 Bandits
Touch 1997 film
1988 Freaky Deaky
1989 Killshot 2008 – Killshot
1990 Get Shorty 1995 – Get Shorty
1991 Maximum Bob 1998 TV series
1992 Rum Punch 1997 – Jackie Brown
1993 Pronto 1997 TV film
1995 Riding the Rap
1996 Out of Sight 1998 – Out of Sight
2003 – TV series Karen Sisco
Naked Came the Manatee
(One chapter of serial novel)
1998 Cuba Libre
Tonto Woman
(One chapter of serial novel)
1999 Be Cool 2005 – Be Cool
2000 Pagan Babies
2001 Fire in the Hole 2010 – TV series Justified
2002 When the Women Come Out to Dance
Anthology (includes Fire in the Hole)
Tishomingo Blues
2004 A Coyote’s in the House
2004 Mr. Paradise
2005 The Hot Kid
2006 Comfort to the Enemy
2007 Up in Honey’s Room
2009 Road Dogs
2010 Djibouti
2012 Raylan

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