From the NYTimes.com:
Elmore Leonard, Who Refined the Crime Thriller, Dies at 87
Elmore Leonard, the prolific crime novelist whose louche characters, deadpan dialogue and immaculate prose style in novels like “Get Shorty,” “Freaky Deaky” and “Glitz” established him as a modern master of American genre writing, died on Tuesday at his home in Bloomfield Township, Mich. He was 87.
His death was announced on his Web site.
To his admiring peers, Mr. Leonard did more than merely validate the popular crime thriller; he stripped the form of its worn-out affectations, reinventing it for a new generation and elevating it to a higher literary shelf.
Reviewing “Riding the Rap” for The New York Times Book Review in 1995, Martin Amis cited Mr. Leonard’s “gifts — of ear and eye, of timing and phrasing — that even the most indolent and snobbish masters of the mainstream must vigorously covet.” As the American chapter of PEN noted, when honoring Mr. Leonard with a lifetime achievement award in 2009, his books “are not only classics of the crime genre, but some of the best writing of the last half-century.”
And that is the absolute truth. Elmore Leonard not only wrote about crime, but he wrote some significant western novels as well, some of which were turned into various movies such as Hombre and Valdez Is Coming.
Mr Leonard’s list of novels is here.
My favorites? His earlier works:
Fifty-Two Pickup. New York : Delacorte Press, 1974.
The Switch. New York : Bantam Books, 1978.
And City Primeval.
Elmore Leonard was the King of Dialogue with sparse, true writing. Any and every current or budding writer should absolutely purchase Leonard’s “Ten Rules of Writing.” Simply mandatory. Please, I implore, click on the link directly above.
Mr. Leonard is survived by five children from his first marriage, Jane Jones, Katy Dudley and Peter, Christopher and William Leonard; 13 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
Elmore John Leonard Jr. was born in New Orleans on Oct. 11, 1925. Nine years later his father, an executive with General Motors, moved the family to Detroit. After graduating from high school in 1943, he did a two-year stretch in the Navy. Picking up his schooling at the University of Detroit, he graduated in 1950 and became a copywriter for a Detroit advertising agency.
His first crime novel, “The Big Bounce,” set in Michigan, was published in 1969 and kicked off a series of hard-boiled crime narratives — “Fifty-Two Pickup,” “Swag,” “Unknown Man No. 89”and the raw genre masterpiece “City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit” among them — that to some of his die-hard fans define the essence of urban noir.
I would highly recommend all of the above books for anyone wanting to introduce themselves to Leonard’s excellent writing. They are my absolute favorites.
But in terms of urban noir, I would also recommend two other American novelists: James Ellroy and the little-known and oddball Eugene Izzi.
You won’t go wrong with any of these three crime writers, as well as cop writers Joseph Wambaugh and Gerald Petievich — subjects for another later post.
You will be missed.