Crime Writer Elmore Leonard Dead at 87

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 20 2013 10:07 AM

Crime Writer Elmore Leonard Dead at 87

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Author Elmore Leonard poses during a portrait session prior to a reading and signing of his latest novel 'Up In Honey's Room' on May 24, 2007 at Book Soup in Los Angeles, California

Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images

Elmore Leonard, the prolific American crime writer whose work was adapted for the big and small screens with remarkable success, died this morning, according a post on his website. He was 87.

Leonard suffered a stroke late last month and had been recovering in a Detroit-area hospital, his research assistant told the Detroit News earlier this month. At the time, those close to him were hopeful that he would recover. "He’s showing great spirit," Gregg Sutter, the assistant, told the paper then. "He’s a fighter, and we’re glad to see that"

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Leonard was said to be in the middle of his 46th novel when he was admitted to the hospital. This past November he was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution from the National Book Foundation. He began publishing novels and short stories in the early 1950s and kept at it until the end. His most well-known works of fiction were probably: Get Shorty, which was turned later turned into a film with the same name starring John Travolta and Danny DeVito; Rum Punch, which became the basis for Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown; and Out of Sight, which would become a Steven Soderbergh movie starring George Clooney.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.