August 22, 2013

The Great Elmore Leonard, RIP

I first started taking crime fiction seriously when I began reading the books of Elmore Leonard. A friend had brought a couple back from America in the early eighties and loaned them to me. I'd just begun to include American crime fiction as a staple part of my leisure reading, beginning with George Higgins and - another American import who wasn't published in the UK - K.C. Constantine and his Mario Balzic novels. Shortly afterwards came my introduction to Robert Parker's Spenser, which sent me back to the Lew Archer novels of Ross Macdonald ... and on and on.

These were all great books to read - involving, swift-moving, funny, great dialogue ... but Elmore Leonard stood out even from this pack. His style involved you immediately in the action and in the thought processes of his main characters. Here are some first lines:

"The night Vincent was shot he saw it coming."—Glitz (1985)

"Chris Mankowski's last day on the job, two in the afternoon, two hours to go, he got a call to dispose of a bomb."—Freaky Deaky (1988)

"The Blackbird told himself he was drinking too much because he lived in this hotel and the Silver Dollar was close by, right downstairs."—Killshot (1989)

"Dale Crowe Junior told Kathy Baker, his probation officer, he didn't see where he had done anything wrong."—Maximum Bob (1991)

August 06, 2013

Get well, Elmore

The Great Elmore Leonard is in hospital having suffered a stroke a week ago.

I'm sure all those who've read his books or seen films made from them (e.g  Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, Hombre) wish him all the best.