His researcher Gregg Sutter made the announcement. The news was shared in a post on Leonard's Facebook page:
The post I dreaded to write, and you dreaded to read. Elmore passed away at 7:15 this morning from complications from his stroke. He was at home surrounded by his loving family. More to follow.
Commenters like David Scott expressed their sorrow: "A bright spot is that we still have his books; a dark spot is that there will be no more."
Leonard was born Oct. 11, 1925 in New Orleans, though he moved to Detroit as a child. He spent most of his time as a resident of nearby Bloomfield Twp. He famously captured his hometown in a often-cited quotation:
“There are cities that get by on their good looks," he wrote. "Detroit has to work for a living.”
Last year, Leonard won the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. His 10 rules of writing have been spread widely, particularly the famous piece of advice that encapsulates his style: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
As a personality, Leonard was as enigmatic and engaging as the hustlers, gamblers, cowboys and con men that littered his writing. He even had a crime world-sounding nickname: "Dutch." In interviews, he often talked about his characters like they were real people. To him, in a sense, they were -- or the fun was in pretending.
"I’ll know that I’m going to have fun with them, and that’s the main thing," he told VICE. "The writing has to be fun or else forget it."
And his incredible output of work seemed to mirror the blue-collar ethos of Detroit, his adopted city. He reportedly worked from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day in a small basement office that looked more like a prison cell than a famous author's writing room.
Leonard has written 45 books and was at work on a 46th, according to the Detroit Free Press. His crime novels have won the praise of readers and critics.
They're known to many through their film and television adaptations, like "Get Shorty" and "Out of Sight." His novel "The Switch" is the latest to hit the big screen; Isla Fisher, Jennifer Aniston, Mos Def and Tim Robbins star in the movie that is set to debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.
He most recently published Raylan in 2012, a novel that follows U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who is also the star character of the TV series "Justified" on the F/X network.
In a review, the New York Times lauds his "grammatical bravery," as well as his subject matter:
"Our best crime writers are sometimes our most astute social novelists, concerned as much with our country’s ills as they are with sensational homicides, and even in the midst of his rat-a-tat narrative Leonard doesn’t forget this."
Get Shorty, 1990
<em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Get-Shorty-Novel-Elmore-Leonard/dp/0062120255/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377014771&sr=1-2&keywords=get+shorty" target="_blank">Get Shorty</a></em> might be Leonard's most famous novel. If you haven't read it, get your hands on this book (even if you dug the <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/get_shorty/" target="_blank">1995 film starring Danny DeVito and John Travolta.)</a> The taut tale of Ernest "Chili" Palmer, a seriously cool Miami loan shark betting big on Hollywood, and Bo Catlett, a gangster in sheep's clothing who'd prefer Ernest dead, is one of the rare Leonard novels with a happy-ish ending. As for that title? You could read the whole book before the meaning clicks.
<em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Swag-Novel-Elmore-Leonard/dp/0062227866/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377014994&sr=1-1&keywords=swag+elmore+leonard" target="_blank">Swag</a></em> introduces another memorable Leonard man from the underworld, armed robber Ernest Stickley, Jr. While Leonard himself was no crook, <em>Swag</em> introduced 10 helpful rules for successful armed robberies, delivered by an "almost honest" used car salesman, Frank Ryan. Rule #1: <em>"Always be polite on the job and say please and thank you."</em> You'll root for these two stick-up artists.
Three-Ten To Yuma, And Other Stories, 1953
This <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Three-Ten-Other-Stories-Elmore-Leonard/dp/0061121649/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377015034&sr=1-1&keywords=three-ten+to+yuma" target="_blank">Western short story</a>, an undeniable classic, helped make Leonard a star. So good it was made into two films: a 1957 version starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, as well as the 2007 film with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Leonard was still an ad man in Detroit while penning these yarns.
Rum Punch, 1992
Leonard called it <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Rum-Punch-Novel-Elmore-Leonard/dp/B008W2ZGD4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377015148&sr=1-1&keywords=rum+punch" target="_blank">Rum Punch</a>, but you know this story from <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/jackie_brown/" target="_blank">Quentin Tarantino's 1997 flick</a>, "Jackie Brown." Leonard never wrote about women who were damsels or wallflowers, but this aging-still-amazing flight attendant is a first-class treat all her own.
Crime novels AND Westerns? Listen, Leonard could do it all. His Out West books were so gripping, we'd call 'em suspense novels in cowboy hats. Take <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062206117/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=10G22ZGRRCZTK359AD4W&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846" target="_blank">Hombre</a></em>, hailed as one of the 25 best Western stories of all time. It's the tale of John Russell, an Apache man on a cross-country journey to live as a white man. He's shunned by his fellow passengers... that is, until the outlaws arrive. It's a meditation on race and identity, with gunfights and stagecoaches to boot.
Out Of Sight, 1996
Before George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez turned in one of the <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1083436-1083436-out_of_sight/" target="_blank">best performances</a> of their earlier careers in the 1998 movie by the same name, there was this <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Out-Sight-Novel-Elmore-Leonard/dp/B003F76J5A/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377015338&sr=1-3&keywords=out+of+sight" target="_blank">unlikely love story</a> between Jack Foley, a robber on the run, and Karen, the U.S. Marshal he has the hots for. Leonard absolutely nails the flirtatious dialogue in this story. If only all hookups sounded this way...
52 Pickup, 1974
Detroit businessman Harry Nolan stepped out on his wife... but only once. Too bad a blackmailer has the whole sordid secret on film -- and will stop at nothing, including murder, to get the payoff. Sound familiar? Let's just say Harry isn't the kind of guy to go along with extortion. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/52-Pickup-Elmore-Leonard/dp/0060083999/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377015627&sr=1-1&keywords=52+pick+up" target="_blank"><em>52 Pick Up</em></a> demonstrates just how much Leonard could do with a simple plot.
<em>Killshot</em> was made into a 2008 movie starring Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke. It's one of the only novels we can think of where the heroes are an ordinarily suburban married couple on the run from a pair of thieves.
Split Images, 1981
The plot of <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Split-Images-Novel-Elmore-Leonard/dp/0062122517/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377015827&sr=1-1&keywords=split+images" target="_blank">Split Images</a></em> is vicious: Palm Beach playboy guns down a Haitian refugee. Was it justifiable homicide, or just practice for a rich man with an itch to kill? This isn't one of Leonard's most famous books, but there's one chilling scene involving a chase and a videocamera we all but guarantee you <em>won't</em> be able to stop reading.
This <a href="http://www.amazon.com/LaBrava-Novel-Elmore-Leonard/dp/0061767697/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377016003&sr=1-1&keywords=labrava" target="_blank">Edgar Award-winner</a> is generally hailed by critics as one of Leonard's best (and considering that he published 45 novels, that's quite a compliment). The story of faded screen star Jean Shaw and Joe LaBrava, a former fan who steps in to protect her, is almost outmatched by Leonard's dead-on gazing at South Beach's seamy 1980s underworld.