When Elmore Leonard died in 2013, he left behind a 60-year legacy of crime novels that, through their trademark wit and grit, transcended genre fiction. He also left behind a treasure trove of unpublished early stories. Their razor-sharp dialogue and headlong pacing reveal a master who honed his craft from a young age.
Largely written during his years as a copywriter at a Detroit advertising agency, these stories find Leonard exploring far-flung locations, from the bars of small-town New Mexico to a military base in Kuala Lumpur. They also introduce us to unforgettable Leonard characters, some of whom – like ageing lawman Charlie Martz and weary former matador Eladio Montoya – star in his other works but were born in these pages.
Leonard’s early work has all the hallmarks that made his later novels sparkle: gripping plots, an innovative and exhilarating approach to language, and a knowing appreciation for what makes everyone – from gangsters to gun molls, from detectives to damsels – tick.
Whether embodying an extra on a movie set in Spain or a desperate man out for vengeance in Detroit, these stories are endlessly entertaining – finding humanity in hardscrabble places, and reminding us why Leonard is so sorely missed.
Read by Will Patton, Mark Bramhall, George Newbern, Tish Hicks and Nick Toren
(p) 2015 HarperCollins Publishers
would make a very nice Father's Day present. Hint, hint...
(the stories) have all the hallmarks of his later career: the laconic authorial voice, the shady characters, the seedy dives.