Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lauding Leonard

Much of my time this last week was spent assembling a considerable collection of comments about Elmore Leonard, the Detroit, Michigan-area crime novelist (Get Shorty, LaBrava, City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit, etc.) who died last Tuesday at age 87.

I solicited remarks from about 60 mystery and thriller authors, as well as critics and bloggers, and was e-mailed responses--some of them funny, others heartfelt, a few relating personal anecdotes involving the deceased--from more than 50 of them. Among those offering their comments and memories were Ace Atkins, Robert Crais, Kelli Stanley, Peter Robinson, Linwood Barclay, Lee Goldberg, Mark Billingham, Alafair Burke, Gary Phillips, Robert J. Randisi, Libby Fischer Hellman, Robert Wilson, and Mike Ripley.

You will find Part I of The Rap Sheet’s 15,000-plus-word Leonard tribute here, while Part II can be enjoyed here.

The public reception given this tribute has been wholly positive. It’s clear that many readers, and still more writers, appreciated Leonard’s deft skills with plotting, dialogue, and humor. However, my favorite remarks on the feature come from prolific Iowa wordsmith Ed Gorman, who opined in his blog:
Jeff Pierce at The Rap Sheet has written so many amazing pieces over the years. Not to mention conducting dozens and dozens of extraordinary interviews. I, as a blogger myself, have no idea how he is a) so productive and b) maintains his blog as the true voice of the mystery field. Nobody else could have written and collected and edited this definitive collage of comments on the life and times of Elmore Leonard. I’ve probably read twenty or so attempts to do something like this but none have come close.
He added in a subsequent post:
Rich, deep, by turns somber, funny and even wise, the posts here by various writers demonstrate why The Rap Sheet has become the the most important of all mystery blogs.
To say I’m flattered is an understatement. But I didn’t put together The Rap Sheet’s tribute to win personal praise. I did it because--even though I knew that the modest Mr. Leonard would have hated it, had he been forced to read it during his lifetime--he deserved the accolades. And many more besides.

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