In his eighties, Elmore Leonard apparently decided to write whatever he felt like writing.

His last six books, published between 2005 and his death in 2013 at 87, were pretty much plotless.  What I mean to say is that Leonard got his characters on the page and let them do whatever they seemed to want to do, no need for him to worry about how the story hung together.

Because, in every case, it did hang together — in an Elmore Leonard way.

In addition, for all but one of those last books, Leonard brought back on stage characters from earlier novels whom, it would seem, he enjoyed having around. For instance, his last novel Raylan (2012) is about U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens who had also been the central character is Pronto (1993) and Riding the Rap (1995)

Another character from Riding the Rap, con artist Dawn Navarro, showed up in Road Dogs (2009) where she was joined by bank robber Jack Foley from Out of Sight (1996) and the Cuban criminal Cundo Rey from LaBrava (1983).

While Djibouti, Leonard’s second to last novel, had no repeat characters, three of the final six books are about another U.S. Marshall, Carlos “Carl” Webster — The Hot Kid (2005), Up in Honey’s Room (2007) and “Comfort to the Enemy” and other Carl Webster Stories (2009).


“Tried to edit him”

Technically, only the last two of the Carl Webster books had repeat characters since Webster’s first time in a Leonard novel was in The Hot Kid.  Still, the fact that Leonard published these three books about him — one, two, three — in a four-year period fits the pattern.

One other clarification: “Comfort to the Enemy” and other Carl Webster Stories is made up two short stories “Showdown at Checotah” and “Louly and Pretty Boy” as well as a novella that gives the book its title.

The 127-page, fourteen-chapter “Comfort to the Enemy” was originally serialized in the New York Times Magazine in the final months of 2005. According to, which describes itself as The Official Elmore Leonard Website, “It was not a particularly happy experience for Elmore because the Times tried to edit him.”

And a third clarification:  The two short stories published with “Comfort to the Enemy” appear to be early drafts of portions of The Hot Kid.

And a fourth clarification: “Comfort to the Enemy” is a prequel to Up in Honey’s Room. It tells a meandering story about Carl Webster investigating an apparent suicide at a German POW camp in Oklahoma called Deep Fork and about how, in the end, two of the prisoners, Jergen Schrenk and Otto Penzler, make their escape.

In Up in Honey’s Room, the two turn up in post-war Detroit, hanging around with a butcher who seems the spitting image of Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS and Gestapo and overseer of the Holocaust.  And Carl Webster is there, still chasing them.

Oh, and by the way, Carl’s father Virgil who shows up in all three of these books first appeared in an Elmore Leonard novel in Cuba Libre (1998).



Patrick T. Reardon




Written by : Patrick T. Reardon

For more than three decades Patrick T. Reardon was an urban affairs writer, a feature writer, a columnist, and an editor for the Chicago Tribune. In 2000 he was one of a team of 50 staff members who won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. Now a freelance writer and poet, he has contributed chapters to several books and is the author of Faith Stripped to Its Essence. His website is

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