Leonard, 87, was working on his 46th novel at the time of his death.
Born in New Orleans in 1925, Leonard and his family moved to Detroit when the writer was very young and his father was working for
His first book, "The Bounty Hunters," was published in 1953. His writing career began with pulp Westerns, only settling into the trademark Leonard realism, crime and wit with 1969's "The Big Bounce," which has been adapted for the movies twice. His most recent novel, "Raylan," was released in 2012.
Twenty-six of his books and short stories have been adapted for the screen, including "Hombre," "Get Shorty," "Jackie Brown," (based on 1992's "Rum Punch") and
Leonard's awards include the Grand Master Edgar Award in 1992, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Award for outstanding achievement in American literature in 2008, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009, (for which he was complimented for his "uncanny ear for crooks, cops, and babes") and the National Book Award Medal for Distinguished Contribution in 2012.
In his widely circulated rules of writing, Leonard said, "Never open a book with weather; avoid prologues; keep your exclamation points under control; use regional dialect sparingly; avoid detailed descriptions of characters, places, and things; and try to leave out the part the readers tend to skip."
Most important, however, he said, "if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."