1 minute read

Elmore Leonard Biography

(1925– ), Pronto, Fifty-Two Pickup, Unknown Man No. 89, The Switch, Gold Coast

American crime novelist, born in New Orleans, educated at the University of Detroit. After writing Westerns and screenplays, Leonard emerged as a foremost practitioner of the modern crime novel (see detective fiction). In a range of astringent novels about urban life he has used crime to present a distinctive and sophisticated vision of the world. His principal settings are Miami and Detroit (although Pronto, 1994, is set in Italy), and his terse, laconic prose style encompasses the entire social range from ghetto to penthouse to condominium. His early crime novels, Fifty-Two Pickup (1974), Unknown Man No. 89 (1977), and The Switch (1978), are enlivened by crisp dialogue. In subsequent novels like Gold Coast (1980), Split Images (1982), and Cat Chaser (1982) the plot becomes less important than the creation of compelling minor characters in vividly realized contexts. Leonard's plots are not mysteries in the conventional sense, but confrontations between flawed male protagonists and more vital agents of cynicism and violence. This conflict of good and evil is vividly presented in City Primeval (1980) and in the unrepresentative Touch (1987) where the religious background is expressed. Leonard's reputation rests with La Brava (1983), Glitz (1985), Bandits (1987), and Freaky Deaky (1988); in a variety of settings these narratives juxtapose the world of business and that of crime. Killshot (1989), Get Shorty (1990), and Maximum Bob (1991) continued this diversity.

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Mary Lavin Biography to Light Shining in Buckinghamshire