Review

When the Women Come Out to Dance

by Elmore Leonard



Elmore Leonard has never really been known as a short story writer.
His novels were perhaps better known for their movie adaptations
and he was perhaps initially best known for his novels that were
adapted for film, such as VALDEZ IS COMING, MR. MAJESTYK, and
HOMBRE (yes!). This earned him the title of "America's favorite
unknown author." However, water seeks its own level and Leonard is
definitely high tide.

At some point a decade or two ago, he became enough of a household
name that, by the time films such as "Get Shorty," Bandits" and
"Out of Sight" were released, a "You read the book, now see the
movie" theme had developed. However, short stories are not what he
is known for. There was THE TONTO WOMAN & OTHER WESTERN
STORIES, an anthology from a few years ago, that collected several,
but that was otherwise the extent of what was available. WHEN THE
WOMEN COME OUT TO DANCE collects short stories he has written
sporadically over the past few years and highlights his
considerable strengths. This is a volume you would give to friends
unfamiliar with Leonard's work, a volume that would have them
quickly acquiring Leonard's back catalogue.

WHEN THE WOMEN COME OUT TO DANCE, interestingly enough, revisits a
number of characters and scenarios previously introduced in a
number of Leonard's novels. "Chickasaw Charlie Hoke" reads almost
like a sidebar to TISHOMINGO BLUES, giving some back story to a
couple of the characters in that fine novel. However, the story of
how Charlie Hoke gets hired by Billy Darwin stands quite well, if
quietly, on its own. "Hurrah For Captain Early" also stands quite
well on its own but is a sequel, in its way, to CUBA LIBRE (a novel
that, despite Leonard's representations, is an "Eastern," not a
Western). Its ending, while ironic, is a bit trite but certainly
appropriate in this tale of heroes unwelcome and heroes ignored.
Karen Sisco, last seen in OUT OF SIGHT, makes a welcome if brief
return in "Karen Makes Out," in which she again mixes business with
pleasure and finds herself to be unlucky in love. And for those
legions who enjoyed RIDING THE RAP and PRONTO, WHEN THE WOMEN COME
OUT TO DANCE features the return of Raylan Givens in "Fire In the
Hole," in which Givens' past provides him with a problem in his
present --- a problem that he faces with regret but without
flinching.

However, the best stories in WHEN THE WOMEN COME OUT TO DANCE
feature characters new to the world of Leonard. The title story,
concerning a rich wife who aspires to be a very rich widow, has a
surprise ending; it resonates all the more so when the reader
realizes that he or she should have seen it coming. And
"Tenkiller," the last story in WHEN THE WOMEN COME OUT TO DANCE, is
also the best. Ben Webster is a rodeo star turned Hollywood
stuntman who, following the accident death of his fiancé,
temporarily leaves the movie business to return home to his
family's pecan farm, only to find squatters firmly and
quasi-legally ensconced on the family property. Outnumbering
Webster three to one, the squatters never have a chance. Well,
maybe they have one or two. With Leonard, one never knows --- after
MAXIMUM BOB one realizes that anything can happen in a Leonard
novel.

WHEN THE WOMEN COME OUT TO DANCE is a welcome collection from an
author who is the Dean of American suspense fiction and more. He
has basically become a genre, an icon, unto himself. And WHEN THE
WOMEN COME OUT TO DANCE contains nine good reasons why.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011

When the Women Come Out to Dance
by Elmore Leonard

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0060586168
  • ISBN-13: 9780060586164