Elmore Leonard was one of my favorite writers. His crime novels were smart, filled with quirky characters and brilliantly entertaining dialogue. Sadly, Leonard passed away earlier today at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke three weeks ago. Many of his novels were made into films. When done right, they were as unique and as inventive as his books, works like Get Shorty and Jackie Brown, the second based on his novel Rum Punch, was directed by Quentin Tarantino. His characters were a rogueish lot full of brutes and con artists. Unforgettably slick with a dangerous charm; think Chili Palmer, Jack Foley and Raylan Givens, it really didn’t matter what side of the law they were on, they were always memorable.
Leonard wrote for years without much success until 1985 when Glitz made it to the top of many best sellers list. But it was with the release of the 1995 film, Get Shorty that really shot Leonard to the top. After years of writing westerns (Hombre, 3:10 to Yuma) with much acclaim, if little financial success, he then tried his hand at the crime novel, finally making it to the top.
Leonard’s last novel, Raylan, came out in 2012 and featured U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, the character portrayed by Timothy Olyphant in the hit TV series, Justified which will begin its fifth season early next year on FX. Leonard became unusually involved with the show and was an executive producer.
His novel, The Switch, has just been made into a film called Life of Crime starring Jennifer Aniston, Mo Def, Will Forte and Tim Robbins. It will have its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month.
Like his fictional characters, Elmore Leonard will missed and not forgotten.
If you have not read any of Leonard books below is a list of recommendations to begin with.
Be Cool (much better than the movie)
Out of Sight