Best-selling author Elmore Leonard dies at 87

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66694 full

Elmore Leonard, a former adman who later in life became one of America's foremost crime writers, has died. He was 87.

His researcher, Gregg Sutter, says Elmore passed away Tuesday morning from complications from a stroke.

Leonard's books were populated by pathetic schemers, clever con men and casual killers. And many of the novels — notably "Out of Sight," ''Get Shorty" and "Be Cool" — were made into films.

Leonard spoke with KPCC's Patt Morrison in 2007, saying he preferred dialogue over narrative, a style he picked up after reading too many thick books in high school, and one that helped win him critical praise.

"And I thought these books just have too many words in them. The writer's getting in the way. I think of the way we were taught to write with the independent clause first, but it sounds to me artificial. It sounds like we're trying to write. We're trying to show off that we're writers," Leonard said.

He also railed against giving characters too much description and using any verb other than "said" when carrying dialogue.

Leonard recently served as executive producer of the FX drama, "Justified," which featured as its centerpiece U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, a recurring Leonard character.

Earlier in his career, the man known to friends as "Dutch" wrote Western novels and stories, but his major commercial success didn't come until the 1980s.

This story has been updated.

With contributions from Ashley Bailey

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