Elmore Leonard, Best-Selling Crime Novelist, Dead at 87

Categories: Books

800px-Elmore_Leonard.jpg
MDCarchives/Wikimedia Commons
Leonard at the Miami Book Fair International in 1989.
Fans of the television series Justified, films like Get Shorty and Be Cool, or just damn good crime fiction lost a beloved artist today. Elmore Leonard, author of 45 novels and sometimes Florida resident, died of complications from a stroke on Tuesday. He was 87.

An announcement of his death was posted to his website, ElmoreLeonard.com, this morning, stating succinctly, "Elmore passed away this morning at 7:15 AM at home surrounded by his loving family. More to follow."

Leonard's biggest mainstream success was the adaptation of his short story, "Fire in the Hole," into the critically acclaimed FX series Justified. But that's just one of several Leonard works that made it to the screen; his novels Get Shorty and its sequel, Be Cool, became feature films starring John Travolta; one of his early novels, The Big Bounce, was adapted for the screen twice. Other films included Out of Sight and Jackie Brown.

Leonard's success didn't hinge on Hollywood, either. Fans of his writing admired Leonard's gritty realism, giving crime fiction an added level of respect. As the New York Times put it, "to his admiring peers, Mr. Leonard did not 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."

Leonard split his time between the Florida towns of Pompano Beach and North Palm Beach, as well as Bloomfield Village, Michigan, where he died. Prior to his death, he was at work on a 46th novel.

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