The word legendary gets thrown around way too often these day, but today we lost a true legend of American Crime Fiction. Though some might not know the name Elmore Leonard, I know everyone is aware of his work from the massively successful television series Justified (based on his short story Fire in the Hole), or the films 3:10 to Yuma, Jackie Brown (based on the novel Rum Punch), Out of Sight, Get Shorty, and my personal favorites Mr Majestyk and Valdez is Coming. I never got to meet Elmore Leonard, but I can say that as a fan he might have influenced my writing more than any other person. His simple stripped down prose painted the picture of sad, desperate people in extraordinary situation, but what made him special was that he never took the situation too seriously, always knowing the right place for a joke. And while his novels are often hilarious, the humor never undercut the stakes.
It is a sad day. But I know he lives on in his work. I know I'm going to be rereading my favorite Leonard novels as I do every year.
Goodbye Elmore, I wish I got to meet you to thank you for your stories and characters, you've brought me laughs and thrills and joy.