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Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)

Be Cool by Elmore LeonardAcclaimed crime novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard died August 20, 2013 at the age of 87. Born in New Orleans, Leonard and his family moved to Detroit when he was 11 and he made the Motor City area his permanent home. He was often referred to as “The Dickens of Detroit” by fans.

Leonard wrote over 40 novels, initially writing westerns before moving to the mystery and crime genre. Critics often praised Leonard for his effective use of dialogue and gritty realism in his books. Many of his stories are full of colorful characters and concise, rough discourse. In 2001, Leonard submitted his 10 Rules for Good Writing to the New York Times with “try to leave out the part readers tend to skip” among them. He was awarded The National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2012.

Many of Leonard’s novels and short stories were turned into feature films, including Get ShortyBe Cool and Out of Sight. The 1997 movie Jackie Brown, directed by Quentin Tarantino, was based on Leonard’s novel Rum Punch. The current television show Justified is based on Leonard’s character Raylan Givens, who appears in Riding the Rap, Pronto and Raylan.