Thursday, April 9, 2020

Elmore Leonard In Florida

Craig Pittman offers a good piece at CrimeReads on the late, great crime novelist Elmore Leonard in Florida. 

“Now they were in Florida postcardland, surf and sunny sky, lush tropical greenery. Stick took it all in, watched it get better and better….worlds away from a bleached house in Norman on an oil lease, or a flat on the west side of Detroit.” 

Stick, 1983

When he died, the papers called him “The Dickens of Detroit.” Dutch always hated that nickname. “What if I came from Buffalo?” he’d ask his researcher, Gregg Sutter. “Would I be the Bard of Buffalo?”

So no, he wasn’t Dickens. He wasn’t the Bard either. He was just Dutch, a guy who started off writing Westerns and then moved into crime stories and hit the bigtime and got his picture on the cover of Newsweek and sold a lot of his stories to Hollywood. 

Some of his crime books were set in and around his hometown of Detroit, but a lot of them weren’t. They were set in Florida, a place Dutch knew quite well. He had absorbed the humid atmosphere and sketchy cons first-hand. As a result he created some of his most iconic characters in books that were set in, or started off in, Florida including U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, the main character in the acclaimed TV show Justified,

So while the late, great Elmore “Dutch” Leonard would decline the nickname of “the Dickens of Detroit,” maybe he’d be okay with another title: “Part-Time Florida Man.” 

“It was his Florida books, you could say, where he really made his bones,” Sutter told me.

… “I think the idea of the Florida landscape got his juices flowing,” Sutter told me. “It’s the land of psychics and strippers.”

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Elmore Leonard via the below link: 

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